India, Iran turn to cultural diplomacy

April 30th, 2008 - 10:01 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Ambika Soni

New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) A day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ended his six-hour whistle-stop visit here, India and Iran Wednesday turned to cultural diplomacy, the two countries deciding to expand travel and popular contacts between their peoples. Iranian Vice-President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaee met Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni and discussed ways to jointly develop tourist infrastructure and expand cultural ties between the two countries.

“We have centuries-old cultural relations between our two peoples. We want our people to know each other better. More travel and tourism will certainly help in this direction,” Mashaee told IANS after talks with Soni.

“We made certain proposals to the Indian side for promoting historical and cultural tourism. We are hoping that they will be finalized soon,” said Mashaee.

“The agreement will be signed later,” he added.

The Iranian vice-president will launch the Iran Culture Week - a mosaic of Persian poetry, music and dance - later in the night.

“The culture week will provide an opportunity to people here to become more familiar with the Iranian culture,” he said.

“An Indian Culture Week will be held very soon in Tehran. It’s important that the peoples of the two nations become more familiar with each other,” he said. “It will help us in strengthening India-Iran relations.”

The festival will showcase the Persian culture in its myriad hues. Legendary Iranian musicians, dancers, poets, scholars and craftsmen are participating in this veritable celebration of Persian culture.

The festival will also underscore cultural affinities with India, which is home to the world’s second largest Shia population after Iran.

During Ahmadinjead’s brief visit, the two countries invigorated their ties as they pushed forward an ambitious $7.5 billion tri-nation pipeline that will bring the Iranian gas to India via Pakistan. The oil ministers of the three countries have been asked to submit their final report on the gas pipeline project to their respective leaders within 45 days.

The two sides also discussed a host of regional and international issues, including peace and stability in the region. The Iranian culture week seeks to reinforce goodwill generated by Ahamdinejad’s stopover in India while he was on his way to Tehran after a state visit to Sri Lanka.

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