Atul Aneja

CAIRO: India has reiterated that it is opposed to the use of force against Iran and renewed its call for a dialogue to resolve the crisis surrounding the Gulf state.

Addressing a press conference here with his Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Abul Gheit, the visiting External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, on Wednesday stressed that “coercive armed engagement” with any country should be prohibited.

To a question on the threat of military force against Iran, he said: “Any act against a sovereign country, member of the United Nations, is unacceptable, undesirable and should not be indulged in.” The “international community” should not accept such a move.

In their interaction with the media, both Ministers emphasised that the relationship between India and Egypt, which are founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement, should be revitalised. Mr. Mukherjee said the NAM should be viewed in a new perspective. Its economic dimension needed to be enhanced, so that fresh energy could be infused in South-South cooperation

He said Egypt, which is hosting the 2009 NAM summit, would take the movement forward and advance the cause of developing nations.

The two Ministers acknowledged that they needed to work together to re-engage Africa. Egypt has just held the Africa Union summit, while India recently hosted top African leaders at the India-Africa summit.

Asked whether India could assist Egypt in a civilian nuclear energy programme, Mr. Mukherjee said this would not be possible due to technical limitations. He said India was currently ineligible to engage in nuclear trade, as it is neither a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty nor member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.