US pressurised India on Iran in the name of N-deal



New Delhi: At a time when the nuclear deal was being negotiated, the US had tried to pressurise India over its ties with Iran and even objected to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Delhi, saying it would give "platform for an enemy of the US", according to Wikileak documents.

The cables sent by the then US Ambassador David Mulford to the State Department make it clear that India did not want America to tell it "what to do, especially in public" as it wanted to be seen pursuing an independent foreign policy.

"This government has to be seen following an independent foreign policy, not responding to dictation from the US," the then Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told Mulford, according to one of the cables.

The cables reveal that Mulford had tried to play the 'nuclear deal' card to pressurise India against hosting Ahmadinejad on April 29, 2008, when he had a "stopover" of few hours in New Delhi while returning home from Sri Lanka.

During the brief visit, the Iranian President had held talks with Prime Minister Manomhan Singh.

"The average American will wonder why the US has gone out of its way to have a nuclear cooperation initiative with India, when India is so friendly to Iran," Mulford had told the Indian officials.

He had warned that the visit would be seen by Americans, especially the Congress, as "providing a platform for an enemy of the US".

Mulford's cable notes that "Members of (US) Congress and the Administration strongly believe that Ahmadinejad is guilty of killing Americans in Iraq, developing a nuclear weapons program to blackmail the world, and sponsoring international terrorist activities... I cannot predict what the effect of this visit will be."

Responding to the US' warnings on the issue, Menon had told Mulford that "there is nothing in this visit that should upset you".

Menon had emphasised that India had little choice after the Iranian authorities had requested for a stop in transit.

"We can talk with him (Ahmadinejad) without affecting our other relationships," Menon told America citing the strong India-Israel relationship that has withstood India's flirtation with Iran.

He added that Iran was important for India as the two countries needed to work together for dealing with Afghanistan.

After his interactions with Menon, Mulford had concluded that no US interference was required in Indo-Iranian relations as India had been warned about risking its image of an emerging global player.

The Ambassador had observed that "sharp, public comments from the US government will only push India and Iran closer together."

PTI