'No contradiction in India's ties with Iran, US'

'No contradiction in India's ties with Iran, US'

Amid mounting pressure from the US to reduce its dependence on Iranian oil, New Delhi has said its ties with Tehran do not contradict its relationship with Washington and stressed that it was opposed to the spread of nuclear weapons in West Asia.

"Our relationship with Iran is neither inconsistent with our non-proliferation objectives, nor is it in contradiction with the relationships that we have with our friends in West Asia or with the United States and Europe," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told a think tank here Monday.

Calling for the resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue, Mathai said while India supported Tehran's right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the latter “must also fulfill its international obligations as a non-nuclear weapon state under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”

“It also follows from our stakes in the region that we do not wish to see the spread of nuclear weapons in West Asia. India’s position on the question of Iran’s nuclear programme is well known and our votes in IAEA speak for themselves,” he said at at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“We would like to see the issue resolved peacefully through negotiations. We also hope that negotiations between P5+1 and Iran would resume soon and contribute to a positive outcome,” he said.

Mathai, who is on his first visit to the US as foreign secretary, was speaking on "Building on Convergences: Deepening India-US Strategic Partnership."

Amid pressure from the US to reduce its oil imports from Iran, Mathai said: “Iran is our near neighbor, our only surface access to Central Asia and Afghanistan, and constitutes a declining but still a significant share...of our oil imports.”

“For us, there are also broader and long-term geo-strategic concerns that are no different from what we face elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region,” he stressed.

Despite the US imposing fresh sanctions on Iran, India has made it clear that it will continue to buy Iranian oil as it is critical to India's energy security needs.

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