Convince Iran to enter n-talks, France tells India

NAT

Visiting French President Francois Hollande on Friday asked India to convince its "close friend" Iran to enter into serious negotiations and respect international obligations with regard to nuclear non-proliferation.

Delivering the Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture at the Nehru Memorial Library, Hollande said, "We know India and its people are close to Iran.... It is all the more important that India convinces this great country of Iran to enter into a serious negotiations to respect international obligations and nuclear non-proliferation."

France is an important interlocutor in the P5+1 talks with Iran on its nuclear programme. The next round of talks are scheduled to take place on February 26 and 27 in Kazakhstan. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is one of the few world leaders to have had recent contact with Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran' top spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

Noting that India is concerned about the future of Afghanistan after 2014 when NATO forces would leave, Hollande said Afghans themselves should decide about their future and in this context asked Pakistan to fulfil its commitment to accomplish the objective.

Appreciating India's role in international fora, Hollande spoke good of New Delhi's policy of resolving all its disputes through peaceful means and not responding to "provocative actions" thereby avoiding conflicts.

"Today we ask for India to be a full-fledged member of the United Nations Security Council to reflect the current realities. We ask because 17 per cent of humanity is here. We ask because the security of the world needs India's presence and we ask because India is a power of peace," he said.

Thanking India for its "understanding and support" in France's fight against terrorism in Mali, the French President said the two countries will continue to cooperate and collaborate in eradicating the menace of terrorism that has its roots in poverty.

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