New Delhi: The US on Friday sought India's help to influence Iran to join international negotiations to break the logjam over Tehran's suspect nuclear programme and pitched for stronger economic and strategic ties between the two countries.
US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai. During the talks, the two sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and discussed a cluster of global and regional issues, including the Iranian nuclear programme and closer cooperation in Afghanistan. The Iranian nuclear issue figured prominently in the talks, said informed sources.
The US pressed India to use its leverage with Tehran to persuade the latter to join the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN security council and Germany) talks to resolve issues relating to the Iranian nuclear programme, suspected of developing nuclear weapons, said the sources.
The US and India are opposed to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, but differs on the approaches to realise this objective. The US has imposed sanctions on Iran whereas India feels diplomacy is the best way to resolve the impasse. The prospects of closer collaboration in stabilising Afghanistan and issues related to the East Asia summit also figured in the discussions.
The global economic crisis and cooperation in the G20 grouping of emerging economies also figured in the discussions. Burns also met Finance Minister P Chidambaram and discussed ways to boost bilateral economic ties amid the global economic downturn. Speaking to reporters, Burns said he stressed that allowing FDI in retail will strengthen the Indian economy and help farmers get higher revenues.
Lauding growing people-to-people relations between India and the US, Burns underlined that the partnership between the two countries would strengthen the global economy. Burns also met Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani and discussed the upswing in the India-US relations. India is the last leg of Burns' five-nation Asia tour that also included Japan, South Korea, China and Myanmar.