July 25, 2012 1:39:28 am
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is said to have decided to travel to Tehran for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in August. If so,he will be the first Indian prime minister to visit Iran since Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001.
Singh decided on the visit,during which he is also expected to discuss bilateral issues with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,after consulting with the External Affairs Ministry.
The visit will be shadowed by the chill that has set in relations between the two countries since the attack on an Israeli diplomat,blamed on Iranians,in Delhi in February as well as the US pressure on India to help isolate Tehran over its alleged nuclear weapons programme.
The prime ministers decision,however,is rooted in Indias close association with the cause of NAM,which was born out of newly-Independent nations desire to not align with any of the two power blocs – the US-led capitalist bloc and the USSR-led communist bloc – that formed after World War II and immediately engaged in Cold War.
NAM now has 120 members and 21 observers.
Sources said India was aware that by not attending the NAM summit,that too in Tehran,would be perceived at home as succumbing to international,particularly US,pressure.
Iran,possibly sensing Indias dilemma,sent foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi in May to personally invite Singh to the summit.
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