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Iran's n-programme

Bush expresses concern over
Iran's n-programme

By Saisuresh Sivaswamy in New York
September 14, 2005 07:00 IST
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United States President George Bush on Tuesday evening expressed his concern over Iran's nuclear programme at a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

The meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes, came on the eve of the United Nations world summit.

During the course of the meeting, President Bush referred to the July 18 joint statement by the two leaders, which spelt out the nuclear cooperation between the two countries, and remarked that it had 'attracted worldwide attention'.

He also said he was fully committed to implementing the agreement.

President Bush added he was hopeful that the US Congress would approve the nuclear agreement, to which Dr Singh responded that he was glad the Indian Parliament had given its approval, even though he was surprised by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's criticism over it.

Iran's nuclear programme came up when the two leaders turned to discussing regional issues, with President Bush expressing his concern over the developments.

India's support for Iran's nuclear programme has exercised many US Congressmen, whose support is critical for nuclear deal with India sailing through Congress.

The prime minister reiterated India's consistent stand in this regard, of resolutely opposing weapons of mass destruction, and said there would be no exception.

"We have often stated that Iran's nuclear programme be pursued within the ambit of its commitments," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told a media briefing, reiterating India's stand.

Referring to the forthcoming meeting of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is expected to wrestle with Iran's nuclear programme, Dr Singh said it was important that diplomacy be given an opportunity in order to reach a consensus.

The two leaders also agreed to keep in touch over the developments.

The prime minister repeated his invitation to President Bush to visit India, and the President responded he would be glad to do so.

President Bush is expected to visit India in early 2006, most likely in February.

National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley accompanied President Bush, while his counterpart M K Narayanan accompanied Dr Singh.
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Saisuresh Sivaswamy in New York