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India, Iran Call for Peaceful Resolution of Iraq Crisis - 2003-01-25

Iran and India have called for a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Iraq. Iranian president Mohammad Khatami is in India for a four day visit that focuses on strengthening bilateral cooperation. Meanwhile, a senior Iraqi leader, also on a visit to New Delhi, has said his country will fight back fiercely if attacked by the United States.

Iranian president Khatami, and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee signed a declaration calling for regional stability, and saying that the situation in Iraq should be resolved peacefully with the help of the United Nations.

Iraq is under threat of a possible attack from the United States because the U.S. says it possesses weapons of mass destruction banned by the United Nations.

Earlier, President Khatami urged Iraq to comply with U.N. resolutions, but hoped there would be no war against the country. He was speaking to reporters in New Delhi after a ceremonial reception.

Mr. Khatami said the world is scarred by terrorism, but says the present situation is being misused to create an environment of war.

Iran and Iraq fought a long war in the 1980s. President Bush has included both countries in an "axis of evil", nations that help terrorists and want to develop weapons of mass destruction.

After joint discussions, both the Iranian leader and Indian prime minister called for a multipolar world order. President Khatami called for peace.

The greatest message that I have during my visit to India, to the nation of India is the message of peace and also rejection of hegemony and also unilateralism.

Mr. Vajpayee said both countries want regional and international stability. "There is a strategic potential in our common search for equitable globalization and a multipolar world order," he said.

The two countries signed several agreements to intensify their security partnership and boost economic ties.

Mr. Khatami is accompanied by senior ministers, including the foreign, oil and defense ministers.

The two sides discussed a decade-old proposal to build an oil pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan. The pipeline will help India save massive transportation costs, but New Delhi's concerns about the pipeline's passage through rival Pakistan continue to remain a key obstacle.

Mr. Khatami will be the chief guest at India's Republic Day ceremonies to be held Sunday.

Iraq's parliamentary speaker, Saadun Hammadi, is also in New Delhi to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of India's parliament. He told reporters that Iraq will fight "with every method" to inflict damage and casualties against anyone who invades his country. He said the country does not want war, but will have no alternative to stand up and fight if attacked.

He also ruled out suggestions that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein may seek sanctuary in another country as a way to defuse the crisis.