India would be under pressure on ties with Iran: Curtis

Now that Israeli diplomats have been targeted in India, the country will have to seriously factor the costs of oil trade with Iran to its rapidly growing defence ties with Israel, a noted American expert said today.

"India will find it increasingly difficult to placate both Iran, on the one hand, and the US and Israel, on the other," Lisa Curtis of The Heritage Foundation said after the bombing on a Israeli diplomatic vehicles in New Delhi.

Curtis, a well-known US expert on South Asian issues, said India will have to seriously factor the costs of oil trade with Iran to its rapidly growing defence partnership with Israel.

"In the coming months, India and Israel are expected to sign a number of military contracts involving co-production and sophisticated Israeli technologies," she said. It will be increasingly difficult for Indian officials to sweep under the carpet their growing trade ties with Tehran, she said.

Skills of Indian strategists who seek to balance India's role as a growing global power with its need to guard against the prospect of rising regional instability will be tested in coming months as the international confrontation with Iran intensifies, she noted.

Curtis argued the US must continue to press India to stay in step with the international sanctions regime against Iran, but US officials should also be more sensitive to India's concerns about Afghanistan.

"US officials should reassure their Indian counterparts that Washington will remain engaged with Afghanistan diplomatically, financially, and even militarily to some degree, long after 2014 when the US combat mission is set to expire," she said.

"Washington should also quell any suspicions that it is getting ready to strike a deal with the Taliban that would embolden extremists in the region and sacrifice the hard-won social gains made over the last decade," Curtis said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday blamed Iran and its "protege" Hezbollah of carrying out the twin bomb attacks on Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia.

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