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Krishna in Iran; N-programme, gas pipeline on agenda

In this file photo External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna meets Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in New Delhi. Krishna arrived in Tehran on Saturday on a four-day visit.  

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna arrived here on a four-day visit during which India will explain the reasoning behind its vote against Iran at the IAEA last year which had upset the latter.

Mr. Krishna, who is here primarily to attend the meeting of G-15 developing countries, will meet his counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki and underline that it considers Iran an important trade partner and wants engagement in this area to increase.

The two sides are also expected to discuss the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, negotiations for which have been dragging for over last four years.

India will seek to use the visit to assuage Iran’s feelings over its vote against it over the controversial nuclear programme at the IAEA last year, sources said.

Mr. Krishna is expected to convey that India had no option but to vote against Iran as it needed to be consistent in its position on the nuclear programme.

India had voted for an IAEA resolution censuring Iran in November last year at Vienna. Subsequently, Iran had written a “nasty” letter to India protesting its action.

Mr. Krishna is expected to tell Mr. Mottaki that India wants cordial relations and increased trade with Iran.

“We attach great importance to our relations with Iran. Our cooperation is underpinned by growing economic linkages in energy, industries, trade investment, regional cooperation, in cultural and educational exchanges,” Mr. Krishna said on his arrival here.

“We believe that our continued and closer engagement is of mutual benefit and contribute towards economic growth and peaceful development,” he said.

Ahead of his once-postponed trip, Mr. Krishna had said on Thursday that the visit would given him an opportunity to “further clarify whatever we have said”.

Though India had supported the resolution against Iran over its nuclear programme, it had opposed “a renewed punitive approach or sanctions” against that country and favoured a dialogue to resolve the issue.

Acknowledging that Iran was “not pleased with our vote”, Mr. Krishna had said, India has explained its position and hoped that “Iran would be able to understand and appreciate our position”.

The Minister said the relationship between the two countries has been very smooth despite the vote issue.

“In the relationship between two countries, there could be times when on one issue there could be certain divergence of views... That should not halt the overall relationship of friendship between our two countries,” he had said.

Mr. Krishna and Mr. Mottaki are also expected to discuss the IPI gas pipeline issue, negotiations for which have been going on for over four years, without any result being in sight.

India has been expressing its commitment to the project but wants issues like pricing and security to be addressed.

Mr. Krishna will also join leaders from countries like Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Algeria, Chile, Kenya, Nigeria, Malaysia, Mexico, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Zimbabwe under G-15 format to discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the developing nations.

On his arrival, the External Affairs Minister said India attaches great importance to the G-15 Summit and values strengthening of South-South cooperation and the important role of G-15 process in addressing issues which are of direct concern and relevance to the developing countries.

Algeria, Brazil, Senegal, Zimbabwe Venezuela, and Sri Lanka will be represented by their Presidents.

Besides, the Syrian President, the Qatari Emir and the Turkish Prime Minister will be special guests, Iran’s Mehr news agency said on Saturday.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 3:56:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Krishna-in-Iran-N-programme-gas-pipeline-on-agenda/article16301058.ece

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