Embassy Row

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Pressuring India

Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen sees “evangelical fervor” in the opposition to the U.S.-India nuclear power deal in Washington and insists that his country will not be pressured into reducing its ties with Iran to win congressional approval for the agreement.

Mr. Sen, in an interview with Outlook India magazine, said India has to overcome the objections from those who fear the spread of nuclear weapons because India has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and from those who oppose Iran“s nuclear-weapons program and want India to adopt a harder line on the theocratic regime.

“Over here [in Washington], there are various lobbies that have been very, very active,” he said in the interview published on www.outlookindia.com. “You can”t change their way of thinking.”

He called the advocates of nuclear nonproliferation “people who have made it a career and have an evangelical fervor about their beliefs.” They want India, which has tested nuclear weapons, to pledge stronger guarantees against the spread of nuclear technology.

Mr. Sen said other opposition comes from a ”constituency that feels that Iran, more than Iraq, should have been the principal focus of attention of the Bush administration.”

“This constituency, too, is very active and is completely absorbed with Iran“s nuclear program and about the dangers of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons,” the ambassador said.

Mr. Sen rejected attempts by either opposition group to link passage of the nuclear power agreement to the advancement of their goals.

“Linking this agreement with any other issue — today it may be Iran, tomorrow it can be some other issue — will be completely counterproductive,” he said.

“It would be totally unrealistic to expect a large and vibrant democracy like India to give up its independence of judgment and action. The sooner this is realized, the better.”

In December, Congress approved the broad outline of the agreement to lift a 30-year ban and sell India U.S. nuclear fuel and equipment. Now Congress must approve the details of the deal.

Statue to Khan

Recognizing that there is no statue in Washington to its national hero, Genghis Khan, the Mongolian Embassy poses a direct question: “Why not?”

The answer might depend on whether one sees the 13th century warrior-emperor as a hero or villain. The embassy wants your opinion. The embassy clearly has its own view of the man it refers to as “Chinggis Khaan,” another version of the more common spelling.

“The great contribution made by him to the world civilization, as well as his role in the making of the modern world, is now being revisited by historians as Chinggis Khaan”s legacy includes his huge empire, which was based on religious tolerance; his advocacy for free trade; introduction of the principles of diplomatic immunities; the approval of the first constitution to rule state affairs; and the creation of the fastest postal system of his time,” the embassy said on its Web site (www.mongolianembassy.us).

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