PITTSBURGH: Notwithstanding its recent sponsorship of a U.N. resolution calling, inter alia, on all countries to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, the United States has assured India it remains fully committed to the civil nuclear agreements of 2005 and 2008.
“We have been assured that this is not a resolution directed at India and that the U.S. commitment to carry out its obligations under the civil nuclear agreements that we have signed with it remain undiluted,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said when asked by reporters here about the U.N. resolution.
India, he said had been “assured officially [about this] by the United States government.”
Asked about what could be expected from the upcoming meeting of the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers in New York, Dr. Singh said that India wanted to normalise relations. “The only obstacle is that Pakistan should give up its old attitude regarding the use of terror as an instrument of state policy,” he added.
The Prime Minister said he hoped that the material India had given Pakistan regarding last November’s terrorist attack in Mumbai would make Islamabad carry forward the investigation and bring to book all the culprits. “If that is done … we will move an extra mile to normalise our relations,” he said. “We are neighbours and as neighbours, we have an obligation to work together.”
On Iran’s recent disclosure about a second enrichment plant, Dr. Singh refused to get drawn into the controversy. As a signatory to the NPT, he said, Iran had the right to the peaceful use of atomic energy and must also carry out all its obligations. “That is the principled position [India] has taken [on the Iranian nuclear issue] in the last five years,” he said.
The Prime Minister denied that American leaders had ever suggested that India scale back its assistance programme in Afghanistan. “The U.S. and European countries have been very appreciative of the role that India has played there],” he said. “We are not supplying any armed forces, we are there to assist the Afghan people in construction and development. We are helping finance some of the most important projects in the area of power, road transport, health and education.”
He was responding to a question about the recent U.S. Army report on Afghanistan by General Stanley A. McChrystal in which he praised India’s assistance but said Indian involvement was also likely to exacerbate regional tension by triggering Pakistani “counter measures.”