Singh struck by Ayatollah’s interest in India

A day after meeting the top Iranian leadership, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said both countries would attempt to work around hurdles placed by American and European sanctions to step up economic ties.

However, the Prime Minister ruled out India intervening to solve problems that Iran was facing.

“There is lot of interest in doing business with India and getting Indian investment in infrastructure. There are of course difficulties imposed by Western sanctions, but subject to that I think we will explore ways and means of developing our relations with Iran,” Dr. Singh said of his meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Tehran.

A few days before the meeting, India had a trilateral meeting with Iran and Afghanistan on developing an alternative route from an Iranian port to landlocked Afghanistan and on to Central Asia.

India has built a facilitating road in Afghanistan for the purpose and has offered to develop the Chabahar port in Iran along with a link to the Afghan road.

Dr. Singh spoke warmly about his meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei, acknowledging being “particularly struck” by his interest and involvement in Indian affairs. This was the first meeting in 11 years between an Indian Prime Minister and the Ayatollah, who has been the Iranian Supreme Leader since 1989.

“And what I was more struck by was his statement that a country of India’s great diversity, different languages, different religions, has greater chances of achieving its national goals, if there is growing respect for tolerance and respect for diversity. He said that is the way of the future, human civilisation is moving in that direction, and what India is trying to achieve is truly remarkable,” observed the Prime Minister.

More In: International | News