Manmohan, Krishna hold talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki

India and Iran on Monday held talks on closer cooperation in energy, transit routes to central Asia and sharing of information on militant activity in the Pakistan-Afghanistan belt.

In the first high-level talks after elections in both countries, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, in talks with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, flagged New Delhi’s interest in the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

Trilateral dialogue

They also discussed prospects of trilateral dialogue between India, Iran and Afghanistan on transit routes to central Asia, with the Iranian port of Chabar to be the staging point for goods.

In four hours of talks with Mr. Krishna, including a luncheon in his honour, Mr. Mottaki discussed issues relating to security, pricing and guaranteed supply, and resolved to convene a meeting of the Joint Working Group to discuss the finer details of this and other energy related projects.

“Our interest in having a trilateral agreement was underlined,” said informed sources about the transit route beginning from the Chabar port. It was planned to construct a railway line from Chabar to Bam. From there, goods would be taken from the Afghan border town of Zaranj to Delaram on an Indian-built road to the Afghan garland highways, which provide access to several central Asian republics.

Economic content

The need to add greater economic content was also recognised during delegation-level talks between the two Foreign Ministers.

Both sides touched upon increasing contacts in the banking sector, civil aviation cooperation, double taxation avoidance agreement, bilateral investment protection agreement and civil aviation cooperation.

Mr. Mottaki renewed an invitation to Dr. Singh to visit Tehran, and it was agreed to work out the details through diplomatic channels.

LNG deal

India also raised the issue of the implementation of the Liquefied Natural Gas deal signed in 2005 for the supply of five million tonnes per annum of gas.

New Delhi maintained that as far as it was concerned, the agreement was signed and reopening it to accommodate Tehran’s desire for higher rates was unacceptable.

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