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No military solution to Iran: Pranab
Ajay Kaul in Tehran
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February 07, 2007 02:44 IST

Opposing the use of military means to resolve Iran's nuclear issue, India on Tuesday said the matter should be settled through dialogue without any further escalation in tensions in the region.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who arrived in Tehran on a visit to impart greater substance and strategic content to bilateral ties, said Tehran should at the same time "keep in view" the opinion of the international community, including the IAEA. "India has all along stated that military means is not a solution. A solution has to be fond through dialogue, howsoever strenuous it may be," he said amid reports about an American military build-up in the Persian region.

"Our position is that it [the nuclear issue] should be resolved through dialogue. It cannot be resolved through coercive measures," he told journalists accompanying him on the first significant high-level visit from India in about two years.

Asked what would be India's advice, he said, "Our advice is not to further escalate tension and defuse the situation through dialogue and discussion." Mukherjee, who will meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and hold talks with his counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki on Wednesday, said Iran has the right to conduct a civil nuclear programme like any other country but it also had certain obligations as a signatory to the NPT.

Energy cooperation will top the agenda of Mukherjee's visit, during which he will ask Tehran to implement a pact on liquefied natural gas that was reached by the two countries in 2005 but was not ratified by Iran's parliament. Mukherjee will also hold talks with Iran's National Security Adviser Ali Larijani and other leaders.

Emphasising that India attaches great importance to its relations with Iran, Mukherjee said, "We remain committed to imparting this relationship greater substance and strategic content." To a question, he said the UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran would not affect India's economic and commercial ties with the country.

"We have analysed the resolution. It does not cover any of our current cooperation with Iran." He expressed confidence that his visit would help further strengthen Indo-Iran relations and "expand opportunities for mutual cooperation".

India and Iran share traditional bonds rooted in time and eloquently reflected in the historical records of the two countries, he said.

Mukherjee said he would also discuss with Iranian leaders the political and security situation in the region, particularly in the context of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. He will seek the Iranian side's assessment of these issues while giving the Indian assessment.

He said the Joint Commission meeting between the two countries could not be held as Iran has changed the co-chair from the foreign minister to the finance minister.

The Joint Commission will meet at a mutually convenient date, he said.
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