Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Iran, Pakistan on anvil as Clinton, Krishna meet

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New Delhi: India Tuesday asked Pakistan to dismantle its terror network and explained to the US its continued reliance on Iranian oil when External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here Tuesday.

While India expressed its view on Pakistan and the need to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, the US made it clear it wanted New Delhi to cut fuel imports from Tehran.

The hour-long discussions between Krishna and Clinton, who Tuesday concludes her three-day visit to India, saw the two sides also discuss trade and investment, China, the situation in South Asia, bilateral relations including civil nuclear cooperation.

Addressing a joint press conference after the breakfast meeting over idlis and vadas at the Taj Palace hotel, Krishna said he and Clinton discussed “our respective relations with Pakistan”.

Pakistan, he said, must act against terrorists, including those who organised the Mumbai attack.

With Clinton by his side, Krishna said the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul had highlighted “once again the need for elimination of terrorists and sanctuaries in the neighbourhood”.

In sync with Krishna, Clinton said, “We have reasons to believe Hafiz Saeed is one of the architects of the Mumbai attacks.”

The bounty announced by the US on Saeed is “our way of expressing solidarity with India and asking for bringing all the perpetrators to justice”.

The sticky issue of Iran was taken up as well in the discussion.

Krishna said he had conveyed to Clinton India’s soaring energy needs and the reasons why it was continuing to trade with Iran.

“Iran remains an important source for us although our imports are declining. We have discussed our position and perspective on energy security and these discussions will continue,” the minister said.

He said both countries underlined the need for a peaceful settlement of Iran’s nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations.

Clinton, who had said in Kolkata Monday that India should cut its fuel imports from Iran, commended New Delhi for the steps its refineries were taking towards the purpose.

She added: “We are also consulting with India and working with them on alternative sources of energy supply.”

Clinton added that the US and India share the goal of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state.”We want to prevent Iran from procuring a nuclear weapon,” she said. “As I said in Kolkata, we don’t believe Iran will be back on the negotiation table until there is unrelenting pressure.”

The critical issue of forwarding economic ties was discussed too.

“We expressed the hope that our economic relationship would grow much faster and realise its enormous potential,” Krishna said.

The Indian minister added that there were “issues” on both sides. Krishna pointed out the difficulties faced by Indian IT companies in the US.

He said India was committed to providing a level playing field to all US companies within the framework of national laws.

“Our strategic consultations have a global character … (due to) convergence of view.”

Agreeing, Clinton said “we should be working to having one of the world’s largest trading ties”.

She added that the US and India are “two great democracies… with increasingly converging interests”.

The two countries, she said, have to “work to meet the challenges and seize opportunities in South and Central Asia”.

Clinton, who was in Kolkata before flying to New Delhi, had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi Monday. (IANS)

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