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Natwar to consolidate partnership with Iran

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September 01, 2005 22:54 IST

Marking India's first high-level political contact with Iran's new government, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh will leave for Teheran on Friday on a three-day visit to explore ways to further consolidate the "strategic" partnership particularly in energy sector and hold talks on the nuclear issue.

During his stay in Tehran, Singh will hold talks with his counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki on the entire gamut of bilateral relations, regional and international issues of mutual concern, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told reporters in New Delhi.

He will call on President Mahmud Ahmedinejad and meet the new chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who held parleys with Singh in Tehran on Wednesday on to the strategic parnership and nuclear issue.

Besides matters relating to security, nuclear as also the proposed 7.4 billion dollar gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan, issues relating to cooperation in science and technology and transit and trade facilities between India and Russian and Central Asia through Afghanistan will also figure in the deliberation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has set September 3 as the dealine for Iran to stop is nuclear work, weeks after Teheran defied the earlier directive by breaking the United Nations seals on its Isfahan plant. Iran has also threatened to restart work on its Natanz facility soon.

Larijani, who was deputed to New Delhi just two days ahead of Singh's visit to his country, has said Iran wanted to cooperate in a "serious way" with IAEA and was committed to international regulations on nuclear proliferation.

"We are fully committed and bound by international regulations to the nuclear field," he said adding, "what is important is to continue our cooperation in a serious way with the IAEA."

Larijani, who also met National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, said that cooperation between "important countries like Iran and India" was essential for promoting regional security.

"The focus of our negotiations with India is on strategic relations, particularly in the field of energy and more particularly, on a natural gas pipeline and the liquefied natural gas supply to India," he said after meeting the external affairs minister.

The two countries are currently negotiating setting up of a 2,775 km-long gas pipeline at a cost of 7.4 billion dollar from Iran to India.

India treats Iran as a friendly country with which it has civilisational links and wants to further strengthen ties with it, particularly in the areas of trade and commerce.

Singh will convey to the Iranian leadership that India desired to work closely with the new government to further implement their 2003 Joint Declaration for forging a strategic partnership.

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