Don't put troops under US control, Iran tells India
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | August 26, 2003 18:23 IST
Iraq must have a multinational force under the overall supervision of the United Nations instead of the occupational forces led by the United States, Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told Indian leaders during his meetings on Sunday.
While asserting that his country wants to see a peaceful and progressive Iraq, Kharrazi cautioned India against sending troops under American command.
During his brief visit - described by Indian officials as a transit halt en route to China, Japan and Malaysia - Kharrazi called on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha.
"During the discussions, there was a review of the progress in bilateral co-operation since the visit of President [Mohammed] Khatami," an external affairs ministry spokesman said.
The two sides expressed satisfaction at the progress made so far and hoped to convene a meeting of the Indo-Iran Joint Commission co-chaired by the foreign ministers of both countries, in December.
They also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and 'both sides expressed full support to the government of President [Hamid] Karzai and looked forward to the constitutional Loya Jirga (council of tribal leaders) scheduled for later this year and elections next year', the spokesman said.
India and Iran expressed concern at the support that remnants of the Taliban are receiving from outside.
While Kharrazi reiterated Tehran's commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the two sides chose to ignore a recent report in a Pakistani paper claiming that India is helping Iran's suspected nuclear and chemical weapons programmes.
Describing the allegation as silly, the spokesman said it did not even figure in the talks with Kharrazi. "It is not difficult to imagine why such a report has appeared in the Pakistani press at this particular point of time. It is better not to take cognizance of such rubbish," he said on Monday.
An Iranian official in New Delhi said the report in the Pakistani newspaper Daily Times was 'imaginative'. India and Iran had 'strong bilateral relations, but there is no cooperation in nuclear and chemical weapons programmes'.
Kharrazi also raised the issue of a gas pipeline from Iran to India through Pakistan, but was told the security situation was not conducive for such a project. http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/aug/26iran.htm