New York, May 21: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Iran, an advocacy group in the US has said he should focus his efforts on pressuring Tehran to halt its "destabilizing and provocative" behaviour.
It also claimed that Iran should not be rewarded with lucrative business opportunities as there are "numeorous risks" for Indian companies in doing business there.
The United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), one of the most influential anti-Iran advocacy groups in the US, said Iran's "irresponsible and belligerent" behavior is in complete contrast to Modi's "powerful and timely determination" to tackle terrorism and corruption.
Modi has a "special opportunity to focus his efforts on pressuring Iran to halt its destabilizing and provocative behavior, rather than prematurely rewarding the regime with lucrative business opportunities," UANI Chairman Senator Joseph Lieberman and UANI CEO Ambassador Mark Wallace said in a statement released ahead of Modi's visit to Iran on May 22-23.
Modi's strategically important visit, at the invitation of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, comes as India looks at stepping up engagement with the sanctions-free energy-rich nation.
Modi will also meet Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during the visit. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said in New Delhi that the visit will provide thrust to expanding bilateral cooperation in the wake of lifting of sanctions against Iran earlier this year.
"The visit of Prime Minister to Iran will seek to build on these commonalities by focussing on specific cooperation in regional connectivity and infrastructure, developing energy partnership, boosting bilateral trade, facilitating people-to-people interaction in various spheres and promoting peace and stability in the region," the MEA statement said.
"For these reasons, India's formidable economic and diplomatic power should not be used to further embolden and enable Tehran," it added.