India dismisses US advice to pressure Iran to give up nuke program

Energy-hungry country negotiating a proposed $7 billion gas pipeline with the Islamic republic.

Indian FM 88 (photo credit: )
Indian FM 88
(photo credit: )
India has tartly dismissed American advice that it press Iran to give up its nuclear program, saying it does not need "any guidance on the future conduct" of its foreign relations. Energy-hungry India is negotiating a proposed $7 billion gas pipeline with Iran, and the project is expected to top discussions when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes his first visit to the South Asian country next Tuesday. The United States strongly opposes the pipeline from Iran and accuses Teheran of running a clandestine nuclear weapons program and arming Iraqi militants. Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful energy purposes. US Deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters Monday in Washington that New Delhi should press Ahmadinejad to end Iran's alleged nuclear program and aid to Iraqi militants. He also said India should tell the Iranian leader to stop supporting Islamic militant groups in the Middle East, such as Hezbollah and Hamas. India made clear Tuesday that it would make its own decisions. "India and Iran are ancient civilizations whose relations span centuries," the Foreign Ministry said in statement. "Both nations are perfectly capable of managing all aspects of their relationship with the appropriate degree of care and attention," it continued. "Neither country needs any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral relations." New Delhi and Washington are trying to finalize a landmark nuclear energy cooperation deal that has faced stiff opposition in India from communist political parties, which argue the pact would give the United States too much influence over Indian foreign policy. The critics often cite a non-binding US law that would require the American president to determine if New Delhi was cooperating with efforts to shut down Iran's atomic program. While India-US nuclear cooperation would continue no matter what the president determined, the critics say the law is an attempt to dictate New Delhi's foreign policy.