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Before Nira, it was Iran buying off journalists
Published on 20 Dec. 2010 11:24 PM IST
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Iran has been buying off journalists, clerics and editors in Shia-populated areas of Uttar Pradesh and Kashmir, doling out large sums to stoke anti-Americanism, according to a new US Embassy document in New Delhi leaked by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.
"It seems Iran is focusing squarely on influential elite audiences in Delhi, with a view to shaping the debate of India's IAEA policy and the nuclear deal," the confidential document titled "Iran manipulating Indian elite opinion-makers" stated.
KV Rajan, former Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs, called an Embassy official on May 4, 2007 for an urgent meeting in which he told him that he had been invited by the Iranian Embassy for an all expenses paid trip for "politicians, scholars and commentators."
The list of invitees in a fax from the Iranian Embassy press section included "notorious America-critics", the document stated. The visit was scheduled for April 28 - May 4, and the Embassy said the guests would meet Iranian officials, scholars and would visit "one or two Iranian nuclear establishment(s)."
Rajan told the official that this trip was part of an effort on the part of the Iranian government to encourage anti-American, pro-Muslim scholars and think-tanks in India to influence Prime Minister Singh's supporters to take a more pro-Iranian, anti-US view, and that his presence on the delegation would have handed Iran a PR coup.
In light of his suspicions, Rajan canceled at the last minute, citing a sudden family emergency.
The document states that Rajan proposed a visit to the United States starting May 14 in his NSAB capacity for five to seven days to talk to officials, think tanks, and the intelligence community to discuss ways to understand better US assessments of Iran. He would expect this to feed into NSAB discussion of Iran policy options.
"Rajan's analysis of Iranian intentions to influence Singh's domestic constituencies is deeply worrying and spot-on, and confirms what we have been reporting. Rajan also noted stepped up Iranian funding to sympathetic Shia clerics. The United Progressive Alliance government is deeply interested in appeasing its Muslim and Left Front supporters, and is concerned about the outcome of elections in Uttar Pradesh state, where a large number of Muslim constituents reside," it said.

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