Stormy US-Iran relations thwarting IPI pipeline project: Haider

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Kochi, Jan 23 (UNI) Former Indian foreign secretary Salman Haider today said the 'differences' between the US and Iran were an impediment to the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, which was an opportunity for India to build closer relations with the neighbouring country.

Speaking at a session on the 'Sino-US Relations and India' at the Conference on the India/China/USA Triangle at SCMS campus, near here, he said ''India needs gas supplies to fuel its growing economy and the IPI pipeline would augur well for its future.'' Mr Haider said the US was trying to 'block' the project as it did not want Iran to expand its foothold in the Asian region.

''As the Indo-US relations had not settled into a pattern, there were chances of a fall out in the bilateral relations as our country's interests expand in the future,'' he noted.

He said that if India and China, the two fast growing economies, worked together, it would be difficult for any country to 'budge' them.

Chairing the session, Harvard University Professor Roderick Macfarquahar said that eventhough there was more 'people to people' contact between the US and China, there was a need to have a 'pluralistic' political system in China.

He said human rights violation was a major issue in most of the countries and China need to do more on that front. ''The US has a free court system, which would immediately rectify the human rights abuses,'' he noted.

Mr Macfarquahar said India would benefit on better China-US relations, which would create a better 'world atmosphere'.

He said there was nothing to worry over whether India or China was leaning more towards the US, as the respective bilateral relations would be beneficial to both.

The conference, which concluded today, witnessed two days of frank deliberations by several dignitaries from India, China and the US, including former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Media Adviser to the PM Sanjaya Baru on the issues in the 'India-China-US' triangle and resolved to continue talks through further interactions, possibly on an annual basis.

Centre for National Renaissance president Dr Subramanian Swamy, also the conference convener, said there were suggestions to include issues on environmental politics, terrorism and mass deprivation in future meetings.

UNI MA SP KP1633

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