Sandeep Dikshit

Joint Commission meeting to give impetus to bilateral ties

JC covers entire gamut including

gas pipeline

Our commitment to help friends in Afghanistan will continue: Krishna

TEHRAN: India and Iran on Sunday discussed the Af-Pak situation with the influential Majlis Speaker, Ali Larjani, noting that terrorism emanating from these two countries was a “common challenge” and both New Delhi and Tehran shared a commonality of outlook on the issue.

India and Iran also agreed to hold a meeting of the Joint Commission (JC), described by officials as the “most important instrument to review and give an impetus” to bilateral ties. Its last meeting was held about 18 months ago here. The next meeting of the JC, which covers the entire gamut of issues including the gas pipeline, will be held shortly and the dates are being finalised, said Foreign Office spokesperson Vishnu Prakash.

The meeting between Mr. Larjani and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna recalled that the JC meeting held during the then Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit in October-November 2008 covered a lot of ground and played a role in stepping up bilateral trade to almost $ 14 billion.

While exchanging notes on the situation in Afghanistan, Mr. Krishna spoke of India's “strategic development partnership” with Kabul and maintained that despite the attacks on its embassy and citizens, India's commitment to assist its friends in Afghanistan remained undiluted.

Mr. Krishna referred to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's vision of South Asia becoming a region of peace and co-prosperity and in that context recalled the meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan in Thimphu on April 29. India, he said, desired cooperative and cordial ties with Pakistan. However, India's concern was terrorism and both sides would attempt to bridge the trust deficit through dialogue, with Mr. Krishna slated to visit Pakistan in July.

The External Affairs Minister was assisted by Indian Ambassador to Iran Sanjay Singh, Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) in the Foreign Office Yash Sinha and other officials, while the Iranian team, comprised Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Fathollahi and several parliamentarians.

Gas pipeline

On the gas pipeline issue, senior officials said that about one and a half months ago India proposed a block of dates in May for a meeting of the Joint Working Group on Oil and Energy. However, Tehran did not reply to the proposal. The meeting could still be held if Iran got back within a day or two but officials said the possibility of its doing so was “bleak.”

More In: Today's Paper