Iran has every right to develop nuclear energy: India

November 1st, 2008 - 11:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) India has backed Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and also underlined New Delhi’s enduring special relations with Tehran irrespective of the growing strategic ties with Washington.”We firmly are of the view that Iran has every right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and in a manner that is consistent with its international obligations and commitments,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in an exclusive interview with Iran’s official news agency IRNA ahead of his departure to Tehran Friday.

Mukherjee will co-chair the two-day 15th India-Iran Joint Commission meeting, which takes place more than three years after the last one held in New Delhi in 2005.

Mukherjee stressed that India’s position on Iran’s nuclear programme remained the same and India always wanted that the issue “must be resolved through dialogue and understanding and that confrontation must be avoided”.

“We believe that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must play a central role in resolving all the outstanding issues.”

When asked whether the India-US civil nuclear deal will influence the ties between New Delhi and Tehran, Mukherjee replied: “India-Iran relations are important in themselves because of our historic, cilizational as well as contemporary ties.”

“Regular exchange of high level visits has always been characteristic of our relations. This is, in fact, my third visit in about 20 months that underscores the importance India gives to its relations with Iran,” he added.

Mukherjee, whose three-day visit to Tehran is expected to give a political push to the stalled Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, made it clear that India has a broad relationship with Iran and no single issue like the pipeline project will hamper it.

However, the tri-nation pipeline project “is an important part of our much wider relationship on energy related issues,” he pointed out while responding to a question whether the prospect of the pipeline will force both the countries to evaluate their relations.

The $7.5 billion gas pipeline project that involves exporting Iranian gas via Pakistan to India is expected to top Mukherjee’s Tehran agenda. The proposed project, which received a boost during Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to India in April, is stalled due to differences over pricing and security of the pipeline that will pass through the militancy-prone region of Balochistan in Pakistan.

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