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. India says no sign of Iran retaliation
NEW DELHI (AFP) Sep 28, 2005
India said Wednesday it had no indication Iran would retaliate over its vote against Tehran on nuclear policy, after a report that the Islamic regime was cancelling a major natural gas deal with New Delhi.

The Indian foreign ministry said ambassadors from the two nations had spoken in Vienna but said there had been no indication that Tehran would review cooperation with Delhi. Its statement did not directly deny the report.

"We have been given no indication in these interactions of Iran's intentions to review its long-standing and extensive cooperation, with India which is of benefit to and in the interest of both countries," the statement said.

The Hindu, an Indian daily newspaper, said that Tehran was cancelling a 22 billion dollar deal to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India, which was seen as important for India's energy security.

It said Delhi's ambassador in Vienna was given a message after India voted in favour of a resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to refer Iran's nuclear programme to the UN Security Council.

India's vote in favour of the motion drafted by European Union negotiators Britain, Germany and France stirred protests from the government's leftist allies and the opposition who said New Delhi yielded to Washington.

The motion states that Iran is in "non-compliance" with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, mainly for hiding sensitive atomic activities, and is an automatic trigger for taking the matter to the Security Council.

Referral would come only after a report by IAEA chief Mohammed El Baradei, expected in November.

The resolution had been drafted by Britain, France and Germany, sometimes called the EU-3, to put pressure on Iran, which has insisted that its nuclear facilities are not being used to try to develop an atomic bomb.

"The foreign secretary has met the Iranian ambassador in Delhi and explained the background to our decision to vote in favor of EU-3 resolution," the foreign ministry statement said.

In June India signed a 25-year agreement with the National Iranian Gas Export Co. under which Iran would ship 5.0 million tons of LNG a year to India starting in 2009.

The agreement has not yet been approved by Iran's national oil company.

Ties between Hindu-majority India and the Islamic republic have been on an upswing since a landmark visit to India by then-Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani 11 years ago.

The nations signed a strategic partnership deal in 2003 and have cooperated on key issues, including opposing the US-led war in Iraq.

But after Saturday's vote by the IAEA's board of governors, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi warned that Iran would object strongly to those nations that had supported the EU-3's measure.

"We will send a letter of objection to the countries that voted for the resolution," Asefi said.

"Iran will revise these (economic) relations, and these countries will suffer. Our economic and political relations are coordinated with each other," he said, also voicing "surprise" that India had backed the resolution.

An official at the Iranian embassy in New Delhi said "no particular decision" had yet been taken on Tehran's ties with India.

"Any further bilateral relations may be dependent on the next stances of India. Nothing is clear yet," embassy spokesman Saeid Asadi told AFP.

He added that he was not aware of any plans to suspend the LNG deal.

Indian Oil Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told reporters in New Delhi Tuesday that he did not believe India's vote "would in any way adversely affect" the import of LNG.

All rights reserved. 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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