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India will vote against Iran again

Tuesday 31 January 2006, by BARUAH*Amit

Says it would want to avoid voting at IAEA meet

Sources say the writing is on the wall Manmohan’s decision to retain External Affairs portfolio said to be significant Anand Sharma says there is no threat from the Left over the issue

NEW DELHI: India would like to avoid a vote on the Iranian nuclear issue at the February 2-3 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. But New Delhi will cast its ballot once again against Teheran if it is called upon to make a choice.

Highly placed South Block sources told The Hindu on Monday that the "writing was on the wall." While India, ideally, would want to be bailed out by a last-minute compromise deal, it would not alter its pro-American, anti-Iran vote of September 24, 2005 at the IAEA’s governing board.

According to the sources, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision to retain the External Affairs portfolio, despite Sunday’s Cabinet expansion, is significant.

Conceding that the Government’s decision became more difficult after the recent comments by American ambassador David Mulford that India’s civilian nuclear deal with the United States would "die" if New Delhi did not vote against Iran, the sources said India’s stance remained unchanged since September 2005.

Speaking to the media after assuming office, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said on the Iran issue: "Whatever decisions are taken by the Government are in conformity with our stated foreign policy and also in the interest of India and the world. We had meaningfully engaged last time also with the EU-3. We had been talking to Russia and other countries involved to find a solution to this issue."

Asked whether the Government was in the hot seat given the "threats" from the Left parties, he said: "There is no question of a hot seat. I was in a hot seat earlier too. But let me tell you there is no threat from the Left. Yes, they have their perception, and we will talk to them."

See online : The Hindu

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