Iran General NewsIran urges India against closer ties with US

Iran urges India against closer ties with US

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AFP: A senior Iranian official urged New Delhi not to drift too close to Washington, emphasising his country’s wish to be a major energy supplier to a “friendly” India. NEW DELHI (AFP) — A senior Iranian official urged New Delhi not to drift too close to Washington, emphasising his country’s wish to be a major energy supplier to a “friendly” India.

Iran’s Interior Minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi said Tehran was determined to push ahead with plans to pipe gas to India via Pakistan, despite opposition from the United States and an increasing range of sanctions.

“We hope that India’s national interests will not be influenced from outside,” Pour Mohammadi said, adding that he had discussed “the unilateralism of the Americans” with Indian government leaders.

“India is growing fast and needs a lot of energy, and we want to meet the needs of friendly countries,” he said.

New Delhi is trying to implement a nuclear energy accord with the United States aimed at bringing India — which has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — into the global atomic fuel loop for the first time.

The deal requires India, which has nuclear weapons, to allow international monitoring of its facilities. But it has been held up due to opposition from within Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition government.

Critics of the deal argue that traditionally non-aligned India may be moving too close to Washington, and that the accord has strings attached — including not doing business with Iran.

The United States and many Western nations claim Iran, which has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is seeking nuclear weapons. They also accuse it of being a major sponsor of anti-Israeli and anti-Western Islamic militant groups in the Middle East.

When asked for his viewpoint on the US-India deal, Pour Mohammadi said he hoped India’s “interests will not be affected.”

He also said he had been told by New Delhi officials that they too “do not agree with the unilateralism of the Americans.”

Regarding the 2,600-kilometre (1,600-mile) pipeline from Iran’s giant South Pars gas field to India, he said the countries had found some agreement following delays.

Discussions on the 7.4-billion-dollar project started in 1994 but have been held up by technical and commercial issues.

Pour Mohammadi — who met India’s prime minister, foreign minister, home minister and national security advisor in New Delhi — said the sticking point was over how much New Delhi should pay Pakistan in transit fees.

The countries “agreed that the technical issues should be resolved as soon as possible,” he said.

“We and our neighbours are doing our best to prevent the influence of any US sanctions.”

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