Siddharth Varadarajan

TEHRAN: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here that the IAEA "should play a central role in resolving the outstanding issues," and stressed that a "peaceful negotiated solution would be facilitated by enhanced cooperation between Iran and the Agency and a demonstration of restraint and flexibility by all sides."

Addressing a joint press conference with Mr. Mukherjee, his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, said Iran wanted its nuclear issue to be solved through dialogue but that a dialogue with pre-conditions such as the suspension of peaceful civilian nuclear activities that were permitted under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty was not acceptable to it.

Pointing to India's high growth rate and increasing requirements for energy supplies that were secure and stable, he said his country as "a secure and trusted partner of India could supply this energy not only for India but also all Asian countries."

Asked about the stalemate over the pricing of LNG imports from Iran, Mr. Mukherjee said he asked the Iranian side to expedite the ratification of the contract that was signed at an agreed price.

In response, Mr. Mottaki said Iran had already given India a general commitment in this regard.

On the political front, Mr. Mukherjee praised Iran as a "factor of stability in the region" and thanked it for the cooperation extended to Indian assistance projects in Afghanistan.