Iran insists on pipeline, president tells Narayanan

July 2nd, 2008 - 10:54 am ICT by IANS  

Tehran, July 2, (IANS) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a strong backing to the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline while talking to India’s National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan here Tuesday, official news agency IRNA reports. Ahmadinejad said: “Iran insists the gas pipeline be laid among the three countries as this will be to the benefit of whole regional nations.

“To promote regional relations and help regional security and fraternal cooperation, Iran considers implementation of the ‘Peace Pipeline’ project as an effective and helpful step which should be finalised and made operational as soon as possible.”

The Iranian president underlined that the “Peace Pipeline indicates the bond of friendship among Iran, India and Pakistan”.

Saying that nothing could harm the strong and long-term relations between Tehran and New Delhi, he told Narayanan: “The Islamic republic’s approach to relations with India is a long-term one and we are eager to expand cooperation with the country. There is no limit to promoting ties on bilateral, regional and global levels.”

Ahmadinejad called for bolstering mutual ties between regional powers like India and Iran to face the rapid changes taking place around the world and fill up the power vacuum in the region.

“Iran and India can have helpful and constructive cooperation in fighting drugs and terrorism, establishing the North-South corridor and maintaining regional security,” he said.

Narayanan, on his part, said he had had good and constructive talks with senior Iranian officials and emphasised that India “wants further expansion of historic and strategic ties with Iran in different fields”.

“As two countries sharing long historical and cultural affinities, Iran and India are influential states in the region and the world,” he said.

On the pipeline, he said that the IPI gas pipeline was important for better regional cooperation and urged for “speeding up efforts to implement the plan to serve the interests of regional nations”.

Narayanan’s visit came at a time when the Congress-led UPA government in India is in danger of losing crucial support from Left parties over the issue of nuclear deal with the US.

The Left has also been very critical of the government for voting against Iran in the UN Security Council for Iran’s nuclear programme. Narayanan’s trip to Tehran is being seen in India as an attempt by the government to engage Iran and thus keep its Left allies happy.

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