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Indian PM: US has no influence on fate of Iran-India pipeline

New Delhi, Aug 4, IRNA-India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at India's Parliament Wednesday, "The United States has no influence over the fate of Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline."

According to Press Trust of India, PM Singh made the comment in response to worries expressed by opposition parties at Luke Saba, the country's lower house of parliament.

He added, "As we had earlier mentioned, the United States plays no role in that respect."

Further stressing that neither him, nor the US officials had mentioned the issue in any of their meetings during his recent US visit, Dr. Singh said, "I only referred to the issue in an interview with Washington Post there, stating that India is in dire need of Iran's gas to meet its rising energy shortcomings."

He said, "The pipeline issue is still in its initial phases and the involved sides are surveying the ways to cover its construction expenses, as well as the extent of its possibility to actually finalize the mammoth project, but efforts aimed at solving such issues are underway."

The Indian premier added, "We enjoy excellent historic ties with Iran and India has the largest population of Shi'as among all countries in the world, next to Iran, which can play as a positive factor in solving differences of opinion between the two countries in this respect."

In response to a question regarding the often stated US opposition to the idea of pursuing the project, he aid, "Throughout my visit to the United States I pursed the basic guidelines of India's foreign policy, exactly as they have been stressed at this parliament." On the outcome of Singh's talks with US officials regarding the India-US cooperation on generating nuclear electricity he said, "Thanks to lifting of the US sanctions imposed against India due to its nuclear activities, New Delhi would be able to generate 30 to 40 megawatts of nuclear electricity relying on importing the required advanced technology."

The Indian prime minister meanwhile denied opposition parties claim that India is not independent in devising its strategy in manufacturing its nuclear weapons, arguing, "We would never compromise with any foreign country over such issues of grave national importance."

He added, "You can find no article in India-US joint statement in which you can point out any compromise made over India's nuclear activities, or any other issue related to our nation's independence." Prime Minister Singh also denied all speculations regarding the probability of establishment of a military pact between the United States and India, saying, "We would not join any military allegiance and would not array our military forces against any country, even against China."

He added, "Improvement of our ties with the United States would not be against any country and India would keep improving its ties with China."

... Payvand News - 8/4/05 ... --

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