Ali Larijani, senior Iranian leader and Speaker of the Iranian Majlis (Parliament) arrived in India on a four-day visit at a time when Tehran is making renewed efforts to connect with its neighbourhood.
Mr. Larijani is now in Mumbai and will be in Delhi for the next three days. On Wednesday, he will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, besides calling on the President Pranab Mukherjee.
But sources detailing his visit pointed out that Mr. Larijani’s most important interaction would take place on Thursday when he meets National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.
Besides exchanging views on the available formats for making payments for oil imported from Iran, the two sides will discuss communication links that have been in the works for long. They will also discuss Afghanistan, taking up from the first India-Iran-Afghanistan trilateral that was held on the eve of the Non Aligned Summit held in August last year.
The sources said Mr. Larijani, having been associated for long with the Iranian energy sector, is also expected to touch on the opportunities available for India, especially with a gas pipeline expected to reach the port of Chah-bahar and the declaration of a contiguous area as a free trade zone.
By the time Mr. Larijani interacts with Mr. Menon, the fate of yet another round of dialogue between Iran and 5+1 (Five permanent UNSC members plus Germany) to be held in Kazakhstan on Tuesday will be clear.
The re-engagement to close the Iranian nuclear file is taking place after eight months, during which Iran’s three demands versus the West’s wish-list of two will again come up for negotiations. The previous round of talks held in Moscow broke down over what the Iranians say is a peanuts-for-jewels offer by the West. Tehran claims that in return for Iran making concessions on the enrichment front, all thatthe West offered were spare parts for western manufactured planes being operated by Iran.
India’s problem in making payments for Iranian oil is a result of the stalled negotiations between Tehran and P 5+1.
The three demands by Iran for normalising relations are right to enrich uranium; rolling back sanctions not authorised by the United Nations; and the West refraining from making threatening statements. On the other hand, the West would like Iran to cease all enrichment activity and purchase this material from abroad.