India toes US line, dumps IranIndia toes US line, dumps Iran
They are five sentences that signal a fundamental change in Indian foreign policy of over five decades. In an overt and transparent shift in alignment and emphasis, the Congress-led UPA government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday signed up with the United States on a touchstone issue, asking Iran to be flexible and make concessions to avoid a confrontation with Washington on the nuclear issue. India’s blunt message, which is also aimed at allaying U.S concerns over New Delhi’s long-standing ties with Teheran, was conveyed by Prime Minister Singh to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad when the latter telephoned him on Friday. In fact, the UPA government went to unusual lengths to disclose the gist of the conversation between the two leaders in a brief press release sent to select media. The government statement read: "The Prime Minister received a phone call from President Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the Iranian request. The (Iranian) President raised the issue about Iran's nuclear programme in the IAEA. Prime Minister advised him that Iran should consider taking a flexible position so as to avoid a confrontation. The Prime Minister repeated the necessity for Iran to make concessions to this end. India supports the resolution of all issues through discussion and consensus in the IAEA." Seldom, if ever, has the government been so direct and candid in conveying a foreign policy shift through an episode some American policy analysts saw as a test case for India-U.S ties.