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Talk of war will not help in Iran issue, cautions Rao

February 17, 2012 13:00 IST

Hoping for a peaceful resolution of the Iranian crisis, the top Indian diplomat in the United States has cautioned the international community that talk of war will not help in reaching a solution.

"The talk of war will not help a solution, it only erodes global cohesion," Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao said while speaking at a session on the Role of India in the changing landscape in the 21st Century, in Boston on Wednesday.

Rao said as a near neighbour, and its only surface access to Central Asia and Afghanistan, engagement with Iran is of relevance and meaning to India.

"And, even as our imports of Iranian crude continue to decline and are currently under 10 per cent of our overall imports, it does constitute a significant share of our oil imports," she said.

"We do believe that our relationship with Iran is neither inconsistent with our non-proliferation objectives, nor is it in contradiction with the relationships that we have with our friends in West Asia or with the United States," Rao said.

The Indian ambassador said New Delhi has consistently said that Iran must cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to resolve all outstanding issues about its nuclear programme that continue to raise doubts in the minds of the international community.

"We appreciate that Iran has the right to utilise the benefits of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. But this right has to be exercised in conformity with international obligations that a state has taken," she said.

"And Iran, as a non-nuclear weapon state party to NPT, has certain obligations that it must comply with, fully and transparently. But, we also hope that these issues are resolved peacefully," said the Indian ambassador.

Observing that the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan will have an important bearing for the future of South Asia's people, she said India therefore has a vital stake in their stability and progress.

"With Pakistan, we are making earnest and committed efforts to build a peaceful, cooperative and normal relationship, and to reduce the trust deficit that has blighted that relationship for so long," she said.

"It is our hope and expectation that these efforts are not thwarted by the threat of terrorism that continues to emanate from within Pakistan and whose deadly impact is increasingly felt within that country," Rao said.

Referring to the forthcoming India-US Strategic Dialogue later this year, Rao said it would be their joint endeavour to build on this foundation, consolidate on the work that had already been done and implement the initiatives that have been agreed upon to qualitatively improve the relationship.

"Indeed in India, we attach importance to our strategic partnership with the US both for advancing global peace, stability and progress as well as in the pursuit of India's national development goals, including promoting better education opportunities, improving agriculture productivity, creating a world class infrastructure and development of sustainable energy sources," she said.

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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