Foreign Secretary Rao back home after quiet visit to Iran

February 4th, 2010 - 2:40 pm ICT by ANI  

By Naveen Kapoor

New Delhi, Feb.4 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao today returned home after undertaking a quite two-day visit to Iran.

She visited Iran for foreign office consultations and strategic dialogue.
This was her first visit to that country as foreign secretary.

According to well-informed sources, Rao had extensive discussions with her Iranian counterpart and Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Mohammad Ali Fathollahi on Afghanistan and cross-border terrorism from Pakistan

Her visit comes close on the heels of last month’s London conference on Afghanistan, which Iran boycotted.

India and Iran share similar views on Afghanistan and have advocated that there is no good Taliban and bad Taliban, and therefore, any reconciliation with the Taliban is out of the question.

Indicating a recent shift in policy, India grudgingly accepted the decision of some sort of reintegration of Taliban during the London conference.

Keeping in view its strong relationship with Iran, India as a major regional player, has been entrusted by the West, mainly the US and NATO, the responsibility of bringing Iran on board on the issue. The Indian foreign secretary’s visit to Iran can thus be seen in this light, according to informed sources.

Rao, who is soon expected to meet her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, is said to have discussed the issue of cross-border terrorism with her Iranian counterpart in great detail, according to sources.

Both India and Iran are on the same page on this issue, as both are victims of Pakistan-based terrorism.

Six officers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were killed by the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jundola in October last year, and there are apprehensions in New Delhi and Tehran that the rising Talibanisation of Pakistan can have a spillover effect, which needs to be contained.

Another objective of Rao’s visit to Iran was to prepare the ground for the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s proposed visit to Iran next month, sources said.

During her visit, Rao also called on Iran Foreign Minister Dr. Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini, Economy and Finance Minister Shamsoddin Hosseini and Dr. Saeed Jalili, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. (ANI)

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