Special Correspondent

Acquiring Syrian oilfield: "India's national interest should be kept in mind"

India being pressured to fall in line with U.S. interestsU.S. objected to Iran pipeline tooForge energy ties with other nations

NEW DELHI: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) strongly objected to the United States asking India not to proceed to acquire an oilfield in Syria in partnership with China and demanded that the government make public the nature of the American intervention.

Reacting to a report in The Hindu, the CPI (M) Polit Bureau said the United States has already objected to the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, is opposed to the India-China collaboration in the energy sector and expects India to join the U.S. game plan of targeting Iran and Syria. The party said it has repeatedly pointed out that India's national interest requires it to forge close economic ties and cooperation with several countries especially keeping in mind the country's energy requirements. It noted that the recent visit of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar to China was an important step in this regard.

"Day by day, it is becoming clear that the United States is utilising the "strategic partnership" forged during the Prime Minister's visit to Washington in July 2005 to pressure India to fall in line with U.S. strategic interests. The Manmohan Singh Government should not give the impression that it can be pushed around," the statement said.

The party demanded that the UPA Government immediately make public the nature of the U.S. intervention in the Syrian oilfield affairs and make a categorical statement that it disapproves of all such moves.

The All India Forward Bloc too demanded that the Manmohan Singh Government should not succumb to the pressure of the United States.

In a statement, the party general secretary, Debabrata Biswas said the U.S. stance on Syria was a "naked interference" in India's sovereign right to take decisions on foreign, economic and trade matters. "It is due to the subservient attitude of the Indian ruling clique, the U.S. administration is repeatedly dictating India what to do and what not to do," Mr. Biswas said.