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`India recognised Israel decades ago'

Diplomatic Correspondent

Reference to Iranian President's recent remarks on Israel


  • JWG working out modalities of implementing nuclear agreement with the U.S.
  • Separating civilian and military nuclear facilities a "precondition"
  • A period of intensive consultations expected

    NEW DELHI: The External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday that it had recognised Israel "decades ago" when asked to comment on remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel should be "wiped off the map."

    India, the Ministry spokesman pointed out, also had diplomatic relations with Israel. When asked if he had nothing to say on the Iranian leader's remarks, he replied "I have said what I have to say."

    Asked about the comments made by U.S. State Department spokesman that before any agreement was presented to Congress, India needed to take steps to separate its civilian and military nuclear programmes, he said a joint working group was working out the modalities of implementing the July 18 civil nuclear agreement with the United States.

    On remarks made by some U.S. Congressmen on Wednesday asking for transparency on the deal, the spokesman said this was a demand made of the Bush Administration.

    "So, that question should be addressed to the U.S. Administration."

    Pre-conditions

    According to the transcript of the State Department spokesman's remarks, India separating its civilian and military nuclear facilities was one of the "preconditions" for the agreement being presented to the U.S. Congress.

    "If any [civil nuclear] agreement [with India] does, in fact, go forward, it would require action by the Congress. But before we actually present any agreement to the Congress, India needs to take several steps, including the separation of their civilian and military nuclear program[me]s, so these are preconditions for us actually presenting this agreement to the Congress," he said in Washington.

    "We are convinced that this is a good agreement for the United States, a good agreement for India and the world if India does take certain steps. So I would expect that there is going to be a period of intensive consultations in the coming months. And Under Secretary [Nicholas] Burns made it very clear in his discussions with the Indian Government as well as in his public comments that we have begun some initial consultations, but we are not at the point of presenting an agreement to Congress for them to make decisions about. That step would require first some actions from the Indian Government. We are going to be working with the Indian Government on this matter, but it will first require some action on their part," the State Department spokesman added.

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