Boucher clarifies remarks on India-Iran relations

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Washington, Sept 22: US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia Richard A Boucher has sought to clarify his remarks about New Delhi's relations with Iran which evoked loud protest in certain quarters in India.

He took the opportunity to put the record straight during a question-answer session at the Johns Hopkins University here yesterday in which he appreciated India's long-standing ties with Tehran but, at the same time, hoped that these relations would be normal and not at the cost of the policies of others.

"I think we understand that India is going to have ties with Iran. All countries in the region, in the neighborhood are going to have some ties with Iran," he said,however, Iran's behavior in the region has often been a matter of ''very serious concern''to the United States.

Referring to India's reported military relations with Iran, often blown out of proportion by some US lawmakers, Boucher said ''I wouldn't say that you have seen anything significant in a military sense or in a strategic sense".

On Wednesday, Boucher was quoted having said here that, it is for India to explain its relations with Tehran in order to alleviate the concerns of US lawmakers.

His statement was objected to by the left parties in India which are against the US - India civil nuclear deal.

India's Defense Minister AK Anthony also reacted by saying that India's relations with the United States and Iran were independent of each other. ''India has very friendly relations with Iran. It will continue to be so'',he was quoted having said.

In his yesterday's speech he also sought to steer clear of the debate that has of late been going on in India over the nuclear deal. The discussions in India would have to play its course and ''it is best that this process takes place without the involvement of third parties, especially the US'' he added.

However, he insisted that the agreement is in the interest of both the countries and believed that Indian would be able to go through the current debate and continue to move towards its implementation, he said.


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