In the first high-level bilateral meeting after the recent elections in both countries, Foreign Ministers of Iran and India will discuss prospects of closer cooperation in the energy sector and developing transit routes to Russia, Central Asia and Afghanistan during Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s two-day visit next week.

These issues will subsequently be discussed in depth at specialised meetings on these issues later, said the government sources. “There is consensus in India on strengthening and deepening ties with Iran in the areas of trade, commerce, information technology, transit and energy, they said.

“We are very keen on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, the sources asserted while pointing out that critical issues of security and pricing remain to be addressed to India’s satisfaction especially after the blast in Iran’s Sistan province on October 18 that killed several high level Iranian security officials. They described as “speculation” reports of China replacing India as a partner in the pipeline.

The visit will also touch upon the invitation extended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Tehran.

In case Iran and India are able to resolve details relating to closer energy cooperation and trans-Iran transit routes at subsequent meetings, Dr. Singh could visit Iran in February, other sources suggested.

Mr. Mottaki will call on Dr. Singh and Vice President Hamid Ansari besides holding delegation level talks with his counterpart S.M. Krishna.

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