NATIONAL

Iran issue: BJP defers decision

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to adopt a wait-and-watch policy on the Iran nuclear issue.

A meeting to discuss the party's stand on foreign policy issues was held at the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's residence on Saturday. Although party leaders had indicated that the BJP would discuss and then firm up its views on the Iran issue, the subject was apparently deferred.

"We discussed the situation in Nepal and other foreign policy issues, but on Iran we decided to wait for the Government to first clarify its stand," BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha V.K. Malhotra said.

There is a view in the party that since there are differences between the Congress and the Left parties on India's vote on the Iran issue in Vienna on September 24, the BJP should wait and watch how the differences developed rather than jump in by clarifying its own stand.

The meeting was attended by BJP president L.K. Advani, the former External Affairs Ministers, Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha, the former principal secretary to Mr. Vajpayee, Brajesh Mishra and Mr. Malhotra.

Rather than a discussion on Iran, a subject that is on the Left's priority list for the coming winter session of Parliament, the BJP wants to focus on the Volcker Committee Report on the oil-for-food scandal related to Iraq. On the Volcker issue, the BJP has already demanded a discussion under Rule 184 that entails a vote.