Wednesday, April 23, 2008

India rejects US advice to pressure Iran

India tartly dismissed American advice that it press Iran to give up its nuclear program, saying it does not need "any guidance" on foreign relations.
Negotiations over a proposed $7 billion gas pipeline with Iran are expected to top discussions when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes his first visit to energy-starved India next week.
The United States strongly opposes the pipeline and accuses Tehran of running a clandestine nuclear weapons program and arming Iraqi militants. Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful energy purposes.
A day after a U.S. State Department spokesman said New Delhi should press Ahmadinejad to end Iran's nuclear program and stop supporting militant groups, India made clear that it would make its own decisions.
"India and Iran are ancient civilizations whose relations span centuries," the Foreign Ministry said in statement Tuesday. "Neither country needs any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral relations."
New Delhi and Washington are trying to finalize a nuclear energy cooperation deal that has faced opposition from India's communist political parties, which argue the pact would give the United States too much influence over Indian foreign policy.
The critics often cite a nonbinding U.S. law that would require the American president to determine if New Delhi was cooperating with efforts to shut down Iran's atomic program.
While India-U.S. nuclear cooperation would continue no matter what the president determined, the critics say the law is an attempt to dictate New Delhi's foreign policy.
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