Indian official sought US visit on pretext of Iran: WikiLeaks

A senior Indian official had in 2007 reached out to the US embassy, seeking to create a visit for himself to the United States by citing Iran as a pretext for discussion, a secret US diplomatic cable has revealed.

Updated: Dec 18, 2010, 19:06 PM IST

New Delhi: A senior Indian official had in 2007 reached out to the US embassy, seeking to create a visit for himself to the United States by citing Iran as a pretext for discussion, a secret US diplomatic cable has revealed.

K V Rajan, then a member of the National Security Advisory Board, called an urgent meeting with the Charge d`Affaires of the US embassy on May 4 and told him that Tehran was reaching out to Indian intellectuals to turn New Delhi "pro-Iranian and anti-US", the cable said.

The former MEA official said he had been invited by the Iranian Embassy for an all-expenses paid trip for "politicians, scholars and commentators" as part of Iran`s moves to influence the Manmohan Singh government.

The official, who was then just a member of the NSAB, has been described in the cable as former Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs and current Chairman of the Prime Minister`s NSAB though actually he was only a member of the board headed by M K Rasgotra.

Rajan could not be reached for comment.

The document has been classified by Charge d`Affaires Geoffrey Pyatt and talks about the "new Iranian mischief" of making overtures to Indian opinion makers.

To counter Iran`s moves, Rajan proposed a visit to the US starting May 14 in his NSAB capacity for five to seven days "to talk to officials, think tanks, and the intelligence community to discuss ways to understand better US assessments of Iran.

"He would expect this to feed into NSAB discussion of Iran policy options," the cable released by WikiLeaks says.

The cable sent from the US embassy in India in May 2007 said that "Rajan`s analysis of Iranian intentions to influence PM Singh`s domestic constituencies is deeply worrying and spot-on, and confirms what we have been reporting".

The US officials actually seconded Rajan`s proposal of a visit to the country "to counter this insidious new Iranian effort", and recommended that the Indian official receive meetings with certain people, the names of whom have been deleted in the cables.

The cable says that Rajan also noted stepped up Iranian funding to sympathetic Shia clerics.

It also pointed out that the UPA government "is deeply interested in appeasing its Muslim and Left Front supporters".

UPA, it says, is "concerned" about the outcome of elections in Uttar Pradesh where a large number of Muslim constituents reside.

"We see evidence that Iran has been buying off
journalists, clerics and editors in Shia-populated areas of
Uttar Pradesh and Kashmir, doling out large sums to stoke
anti-Americanism.

"Now, it seems Iran is focusing squarely on influential
elite audiences in Delhi, with a view to shaping the debate of
India`s IAEA policy and the nuclear deal," the American cable
says.

The documents say the visit reported by Rajan to Iran
was scheduled for April 28-May 4, and would involve meetings
with Iranian officials, scholars and a visit to "one or two
Iranian nuclear establishment(s)."

"Rajan told Charge (d`Affaires) that this trip was part
of an effort on the part of the Iranian government to
encourage anti-American, pro-Muslim scholars and think-tankers
in India to influence Prime Minister Singh`s supporters to
take a more pro-Iranian, anti-US view, and that his presence
on the delegation would have handed Iran a PR coup," it says.

The document says that Rajan cancelled his visit at the
last minute "in light of his suspicions".

PTI