India put its foot down on statements against Iran and Myanmar (Wikileaks)

Despite humoring the US concerns on Iran when discussing matters like nuclear proliferation, India very much continued to be a ‘behind-the-scenes’ friend to Iran and Myanmar, according to the latest US cables leaked by Wikileaks.

According to the late 2006 cable sent from USA’s Finnish embassy in Helsinki, Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh was very forcefully rejected a request by European Union leaders to criticise ‘human rights violations’ in Iran and Myanmar.

Unlike the EU, India considers Iran and Myanmar crucial to its foreign policy. While a friendly Iran to the West of Afghanistan-Pakistan acts as a counter-balance in India’s relationship with the two neighbours, India is also on its best behaviour towards Myanmar to prevent the rapidly proliferating Chinese interests in its Eastern neighbour.

As a result, at the end of a India-EU summit, India flatly rejected the EU proposal to mention Iran and Myanmar ‘violations’ in the final declaration, the Finnish PM’s special advisor on Foreign Affairs, Johan Schalin told US embassy officials.

“While the EU was satisfied with the Summit’s joint statements on Sri Lanka, North Korea and Afghanistan, the Indians initially rejected outright the EU’s effort to adopt strongly-worded conclusions on Iran, Burma and Lebanon,” he told them.

After much negotiation, the Manmonhan Singh finally accepted a watered-down conclusion in support of Lebanon and the implementation of the UN resolution calling for ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel in 2006.

“However, the Indians would not even consider EU language criticizing the Burmese junta’s human rights record or in support of UN sanctions against Iran. The Indian counterproposals were so weak that they “actually would have damaged what the Union wanted to achieve,” he added.

In the end, the Summit declaration merely said Burma and
Iran’s nuclear program were “discussed.”