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Iran issue should be resolved by dialogue: PM

September 16, 2006 00:20 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had an informal meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the venue of the inaugural ceremony of the 14th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Havana, Cuba, on Friday.

Official sources said Dr Singh told Ahmadinejad that he was happy to have met him and looked forward to meeting him later during the summit. This was an indication that the two leaders will have a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the two-day summit.

Earlier, Dr Singh had said that the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme should be resolved through dialogue and not through any coercive action.

"If there are any doubts about Iran's nuclear programme, those doubts should be resolved through dialogue, through discussion, rather than coercive action," he told journalists accompanying him on a special Air India flight from Brasilia to Havana.

The Iran issue is expected to figure prominently in the discussions at the summit.

Media reports said NAM officials, at meetings preceding the summit, had finalised a resolution on Iran, in which it called for an 'unconditional resumption of dialogue' to resolve the tense stand-off.

However, Dr Singh said he had not yet seen the draft resolution.

"I have stated on a number of occasions that Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Therefore, Iran must have all the rights that go with being a member of the NPT and it must also fulfill all obligations," he said.

The Iranian President had met leaders of the G-15 at a summit in Havana on Thursday. He got support from them in the standoff. The show of solidarity came as Washington called for sanctions against Iran, which has ignored an August 31 deadline by the United Nations to stop enriching uranium.

The NAM summit is expected to adopt a resolution which would stress Iran's right to acquire and use nuclear energy and technology for peaceful purposes. Ahmadinejad told his counterparts that some countries were placing obstacles in the way of progress on the issue -- a reference to the US-led efforts to persuade Iran to stop producing enriched uranium.

On Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that his government was prepared to resume the negotiations on the issue without any pre-conditions. Washington, however, insists that Tehran must first suspend the enrichment and reprocessing activities before talks can be held.

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