Dec 6, 2006 12:45 am


“India must decide where it will stand — with the ayatollahs of terror in Tehran or with the United States,” said Tom Lantos, the powerful Democratic member of the House International Relations Committee. The US not only objects to a gas pipeline between India and Iran but, that was not the reason Lantos is justifiably enraged.

"Lantos said he found Natwar Singh's reported statement in Iran --"literally sickening, this Stalinist rhetoric which we don't accept from the Indian foreign minister."

Singh is reported to have said during his meeting with the new Iranian president that India 'supports the resolution of Iran's nuclear issue within the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)framework but opposes sending the file to the UN Security Council.'

Singh is also reported to have lamented the inclination to inject injustice in international relations, reiterating that India's relations with Iran 'is not predicated on positions and views attributed to some governments,' which Lantos said was clearly the US.

Though many Congressmen are less than happy about the nuclear component in the new Indian- American strategic relationship. Lantos asserts that he is not one of those, but that"“If we are turning ourselves into a pretzel to accommodate India, I want to be damn sure that India is mindful of U.S. policies in critical areas such as U.S. policy towards Iran.” Lantos also emphasized that Europe shares the American efforts to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

I was delighted when the BBC interviewer for the World Today suggested that India, unlike the US does not have"an ax to grind" with Iran, Lantos told him that his formulation of the question was unacceptable as anyone working for the BBC should know better than to dismiss in such a cavalier way the problem of a nuclear Iran. This is my summary of discussion, so the wording is imprecise.

In any case, the real question is whether Singh represented the Indian government or he was opposed to the new American-Indian strategic alliance. In the meantime, the Pentagon briefed Delhi on the Patriot missile as a demonstration of the American commitment to the strategic partnership. These defensive missiles are particularly important given Pakistan's progress in developing its own missile technology.

I know that administration officials encourage their foreign counterparts to dismiss pronouncements made by Congressmen. But it would be a mistake for India to do so. Legislation is needed to implement full peaceful nuclear cooperation with India and Lantos is a serious foreign policy experts who enjoys the respect of his colleagues.

I can't believe democratic India is so enslaved to her reflexive non-aligned posture as to chose Iran over the US. After all, Even Russia is beginning trade lightly when it comes to Iran.

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