Narayanan in Iran on ‘charm Left’ mission

July 2nd, 2008 - 12:24 am ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) In a last-ditch effort to win the backing of the Left parties for the India-US nuclear deal, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan Tuesday held talks with top Iranian officials in Tehran and conveyed India’s commitment to the tri-nation gas pipeline. Narayanan met Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Saeed Jalili, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator and head of the Supreme National Security Council, and discussed with them a host of strategic and economic issues.

He also reiterated India’s commitment to the $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline and hoped that the oil ministers of the three countries will meet soon to tie up the loose ends to finalise a pact on the ambitious project.

“Constructing the pipeline can enhance cordial ties between Iran and India,” Narayanan said, according to an Iranian news agency.

Narayanan’s short visit to Iran is part of the security dialogue the two countries agreed upon during the meeting of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad here in April.

With the government likely to take a decision on taking the US civil nuclear deal forward over the weekend, Narayanan’s visit is also meant to underline the Indian government’s pursuit of an independent foreign policy.

It is also a placatory gesture towards the Leftist allies who have accused the government of compromising independent foreign policy and India’s centuries-old ties with Tehran allegedly under American pressure.

Narayanan’s Tehran visit is probably the last gesture by the government to appease the Left parties who are virulently opposed to the nuclear deal and have asked it to show the same zeal in wrapping up the pipeline project.

In fact, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader A.B. Bardhan has put the government to the Iran pipeline test, saying that the government’s claims of pursuing an independent foreign policy can only be vindicated if it goes ahead with the pipeline project.

Narayanan returns to New Delhi Wednesday.

With the government heading for a parting of ways with the Left, Narayanan is likely to brief Samajwadi Party leaders on the intricacies of the nuclear deal in a bid to win the that party’s backing for the deal - in case the Left parties pull out their support to the government.

With 39 MPs in the Lok Sabha, the Samajwadi Party holds the key to the survival of the UPA government if a no-trust vote is taken in parliament.

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