New Delhi not seeking out role for itself in mediation between Iran and West

While maintaining that talks on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline were stalemated on the issue of security and price, official sources denied that its slow progress, as compared to the proposed project from Turkmenistan, was due to the “pincer” pressure by the Europeans and the Americans.

“There is no pincer. Iran has pegged the price at international rates plus a certain percentage of profit. Where is the advantage for us? We would also like to be assured of the security of supply what with the pipeline running through Baluchistan.

“We are still among the biggest buyers of Iranian oil. We will continue to do so,” the sources said, indicating that any cut back was due to commercial decisions taken by Indian oil companies.

“Companies pick and choose [sellers]. They had trouble with insurance and now Iran has said it will give insurance. The companies have to make up their minds on that,” the sources said. New Delhi, on its part, was ever willing to assist Indian companies purchasing crude from Iran whenever they ran against hurdles created by U.S. and European sanctions.

The sources said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s maiden visit to Tehran was primarily for the Non-Aligned Movement summit.

But Dr. Singh is also availing himself of the opportunity to meet Supreme Leader Syed Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without getting entangled in the nuclear issue.

Asked whether India would like to mediate between the West and Iran, the sources said New Delhi was not seeking out a role for itself. “We are not looking for jobs. We have enough work of our own.” India had an opinion though on the nuclear issue and felt that it should be handled between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran.

Iran feels India is well within its rights to process uranium but it should also respect its obligations. Iran has accepted full-scope safeguards and the simplest way is to sort it out with the IAEA. Asked how the Iran-West standoff would play out, the sources demurred, saying it was “hard to read people’s minds.”

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