Ali Larijani, senior Iranian leader and Speaker of the Iranian Majlis (Parliament), is in India on a four-day visit at a time when Tehran is making renewed efforts to connect with its neighbourhood.

Mr. Larijani will be meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday besides calling on President Pranab Mukherjee. But sources detailing his visit pointed out that Mr. Larijani’s most important interaction will take place on Thursday when he meets National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.

Besides exchanging views on 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.

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 he 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 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 that the 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 UN; 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.

  • India’s problem in paying for Iranian oil is result of stalled negotiations between Tehran, P 5+1

  • India maintains that the world must recognise Iran’s right to peaceful use of nuclear energy