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New Delhi, Sept. 28

THE Left parties have cautioned the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) that India's stand against Iran's nuclear programme in the International Atomic Energy Commission's (IAEA) meeting on Saturday may have severe implications on the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Iran.

In June this year, India and Iran had reached a deal, whereby India would import five million tonnes of LNG every year for 25 years, starting from 2010. It was also decided between the two countries to build the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

A four-member Left delegation, which met the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on the Iran issue refused to accept the Prime Minister's explanation justifying India's voting against Iran's nuclear programme. Dr Singh told the Left leaders that India has voted in favour of the resolution to avoid a confrontation between Iran and the international community.

Speaking to newspersons after the meeting, the General Secretary of the RSP, Mr Abani Roy, said that "the traditional cordial relation between India and Iran dating back to the days on non-aligned movements and the country's commercial interests regarding fuel gas would also get affected due to this incident."

"Also the prospect of getting a permanent seat in the Security Council could get dimmer," Mr Roy said.

The Government has denied reports that Iran had called off the LNG deal.

GAIL chief says LNG deal not off: The Chairman and Managing Director of GAIL (India) Ltd, Mr Proshanto Bannerjee, which has signed the deal with Iran on LNG, also said that he was not aware of any move to call off the deal. "We have not yet received any official communication from the National Iranian Gas Export Company on the annulment of the LNG deal," he said.

`India should have abstained': Mr Sitaram Yechury, CPI (M) Polit Bureau member said, "We are not convinced by the explanation given by the Government. India should have abstained from voting. We have demanded that India should assure the world that we will not allow the issue to be raised at the Security Council."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 29, 2005)
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