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Rediff.com  » News » NAM meet: US, Israel frown at India hobnobbing with Iran

NAM meet: US, Israel frown at India hobnobbing with Iran

August 30, 2012 18:09 IST

How does a country stay relevant in a grouping of 119 countries with little or nothing in common today, other than the fact that they had gotten together in a time and era when there was a Cold War on in the World.

The Non-Aligned Movement is struggling to stay relevant despite the onslaught by Western powers to label it as a 'bacchanal of nonsense'. And, India finds itself at the cross roads of continuing to be one of the pillars of NAM, and yet moving on beyond such a grouping.

Annoyed with the Indian prime minister's three-day-long visit to Tehran and the warm words exchanged between the Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Dr Manmohan Singh, the Israeli embassy in New Delhi issued a terse media statement.

Attacking the Iranian leadership, the embassy of Israel in New Delhi accused Tehran of being behind state-sponsored terror acts, including the bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat in the Indian capital earlier this year. The statement further went on to allege that Iran is running the "most extensive state- sponsored terrorism operation" in the world.

The statement criticised Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and its supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

"Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, the leaders of the Iranian regime, are publicly calling for the destruction of the State of Israel, acquiring nuclear weapons and running the most extensive state-sponsored terrorism operation in the world," said David Goldfarb, a spokesman for Israel embassy in Delhi.

"These are the same people who sent Iranian state-agents to kill an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi while she was on her way to pick up her children from school on 13 February 2012," he added.

The embassy statement was released a day before the opening of the NAM Summit. The statement was issued even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met the Iranian leadership on the sidelines on Wednesday.

Though India does find itself at the cross-roads insofar as being one of the founding members of NAM, the PM still believes that New Delhi can continue to play a relevant and effective role in the movement's future. Earlier this week, as he was heading to Tehran to attend the NAM Summit, Dr Singh said the institution of NAM should help in tackling key political and economic challenges, including the worsening situation in Syria and a persistent global economic slowdown.

Dr Singh believed that the platform of NAM could be used to once again highlight the need to remove outdated structures of global governance, and replace them with more efficient and relevant structures having the ability to keep pace with contemporary political and economic challenges.

"There is widespread recognition that the outdated structures of global governance have not been able to keep pace with contemporary political and economic challenges. Many of these challenges, such as the worsening situation in Syria, a persistent global economic slowdown, and other new and emerging threats, require credible trans-national action," Dr Singh said.

"I will stress that our movement should provide a strong political impetus to the ongoing efforts to reform and democratise global governance structures, which are critical to tackle these challenges more effectively," he added.

With both the United States and Israel urging the Indian leadership to reduce engagement with Islamic-dominant Iran, Dr Singh's interactions with the Iranian leadership on Wednesday don't seem to have cut ice with either Washington or Tel Aviv.

The United States has been pushing India to support an international sanctions regime against Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme. Dr Singh and President Ahmadinejad did discuss the nuclear issue, and according to an official source, India did express the hope for progress in the P5+1 Dialogue and underlined that this would contribute positively to peace and security in the region.

While the West has been trying to underplay Iran hosting the NAM Summit, Tehran sees the event as a major diplomatic achievement. Iran has been slapped with a number of sanctions by the United States and the other western nations, which accuse Iran of pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons programme.

However, Iran denies the charge and says its nuclear programme is for peaceful use. Energy-starved India continues to see Iran as one of its key suppliers for oil. While India recognises only UN-imposed sanctions, those levied by the United States and other countries have become a major stumbling block in making payments to Iran for oil imports.

Ahead of their meeting, New Delhi made it very clear that discussions between Dr Singh and President Ahmadinejad would focus only on peace and security, as these were essential for India's security and for the progress of the Indian economy. 

Source: ANI