In the first meeting with an Indian Prime Minister in 11 years, the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waxed eloquent on the role played by Mahatma Gandhi in India’s freedom struggle and the picking up of the baton by Jawaharlal Nehru, who was instrumental in establishing the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Dr. Singh, after an hour-long meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, met the Supreme Leader for 40 minutes. Ayatollah Khamenei said he was deeply impressed by Mahatma Gandhi’s “brilliant and illustrious visage’’ and recalled his “heroic’’ struggle in South Africa which was followed by leadership of the freedom movement, said sources in the government.

The positions taken by Nehru “flowed’’ from Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle and helped create NAM, added the Supreme Leader who also recalled his visit to India three decades back and the meetings with Indira Gandhi and P.V Narasimha Rao.

The Ayatollah endorsed Mr. Ahamadinejad’s sentiments regarding the Chabahar project which would provide India an inexpensive route into Afghanistan as compared to the Northern Distribution Network being utilised by the Western forces and the violence-prone link from Karachi port.

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