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India not part of regime change efforts in Iran: PM

By Super

New Delhi, Mar 6: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today (Mar 6, 2006) asserted that India was not part of any international efforts for a regime change in Iran and was interested in resolving the complex nuclear issue by giving diplomacy a full try.

Making a statement in the Rajya Sabha after concerns were expressed by the members on India's vote at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meet, the Prime Minister categorically stated that India was not part of any international effort towards a regime change in Iran after the MPs from the Left parties insisted on an answer since President Bush had spoken of the matter while he was in India.

Dr Singh also said he had had talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin who was holding discussions with Iran, and said India did not favour confrontation, rhetoric or coercive measures as they only exacerbate tensions in the region and beyond.

''The Russian President has assured me that his bid was also in this regard,'' he said, adding that India would work with all like-minded countries, including those from the Non-Aligned Movement for a mutually acceptable resolution of the issue and that a confrontation was not in the interest of India or the region.

He said India will pay due attention to its relationship with Iran and the need to maintain peace and stability in Gulf region and safeguarding its own security.

On the IAEA, the Prime Minister said the discussion was still on and it was not certain in what form it will figure before the Board of Governors.

Agreeing with CPI(M) member Sitaram Yechuri, he said there could not be two opinions that on crucial international issues the government would have to take a dispassionate view keeping national interest in mind. He said Iran had a legal right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy, but at the same time it had the obligation and responsibility based on the Safeguards Agreement it undertook voluntarily with the IAEA.

Iran had agreed to start the process of assisting the IAEA with investigations into several past activities and as an important part of this process it had voluntarily suspended all enrichment and reprocessing activity in November 2004.

However, since last August, Iran had renewed production of uranium hexafluoride, and uranium enrichment since then. The unresolved question regarding the centrifuge imports and designs to make uranium metallic hemispheres remain and the origin of such procurement was an issue of direct concern to India, Dr Singh said.

Under such circumstances, India's position was based on facts which had emerged during an objective investigation of the IAEA and through information disclosed by Iran itself, he added.

Deputy Speaker K Rehman Khan, who was in the chair, foreclosed the efforts of the Left Parties to discuss the issue.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, meanwhile, clarified that the Prime Minister would make a statement about the three-day visit of President George Bush to India and the Indo-US nuclear agreement in the House tomorrow.


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