India, US discuss Syria, Iran
New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) Against the backdrop of the escalating crisis in Syria, India and the US Wednesday shared their views on ending the impasse in the West Asian country and also discussed issues relating to the Iranian nuclear programme.
National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai met Susan Rice, the US' UN envoy and President Barack Obama's trusted adviser on foreign policy issues, and discussed a host of regional and international issues.
The meeting comes days after Obama warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not to cross the "red line" of shifting unconventional weapons (biological and chemical weapons) in a threatening manner.
At the meeting, India is understood to have conveyed that it favoured a UN-led solution to the Syrian crisis and pushed for an inclusive political reconciliation, reliable sources said.
Signalling a changed assessment of the situation in Syria, India, which had voted earlier for the West-backed resolutions in the UN Security Council, had abstained on a Saudi-backed resolution in the United Nations General Assembly last month as it contained a reference to the Arab League's resolution for Assad to step down.
Issues relating to the controversial Iranian nuclear programme, suspected of developing atomic weapons, also figured in the discussions, the sources said.
The India-US discussion on Iran takes place just a few days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh heads to Tehran for the Aug 30-31 Non-Aligned Movement summit. He is also expected to hold bilateral talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjead on the sidelines of the summit.
India has consistently backed the resolution of the Iranian nuclear deadlock through dialogue and discussions and has continued its energy and economic ties with Tehran in the face of Western sanctions.
The US has pressed India to use its influence to persuade the defiant Iranian regime to come clean on its nuclear programme.
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