Need to look afresh at India-Iran ties: Pranab

November 2nd, 2008 - 9:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Tehran, Nov 2 (IANS) Seeking to allay Iran’s concerns about India’s ties with the US, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Sunday underlined its independent foreign policy even as he stressed on the need for New Delhi and Tehran to look “afresh” at their relations in the light of the rise of Asia and changing global realities. “First and foremost is the fundamental principle of independence and freedom of thought and action. We are open to all counsel and manner of views but our assessments and policies are ours alone,” Mukherjee said at a seminar entitled ‘India and Iran: Ancient Civilisations and Modern Nations’ here.

“Secondly, we are instinctively multipolar and this inclination to multipolarity draws from the size of our country as also the magnitude of its diversities in terms of faith, language and region,” he told prominent Iranian diplomats and intellectuals while giving a broad overview of India’s foreign policy in the changing world.

“India is strengthening her relationships with all the major powers - USA, Russia, EU, China and Japan as well as with emerging economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa,” he said in a bid to dispel the impression in some quarters in Iran about India’s alleged pro-US drift after the landmark nuclear deal between the two countries.

The minister also stressed that both the India-US nuclear deal and India’s ongoing negotiations for the tri-nation pipeline that seeks to bring the Iranian gas to the Indian territory via Pakistan are aimed at achieving energy security, which is necessary for the fast growing economy of the country. Mukherjee wrapped up his three-day visit to Tehran Sunday.

Alluding to the “new” India of today and its place in the international matrix marked by the rise of Asia, the minister said: “It is in this changing context that we need to look at India-Iran relations afresh. We have close civilisational ties, and share common interests and perceptions on many regional issues.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki agreed with Mukherjee about the need to modernize ties between the two countries, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Mottaki stressed that Tehran and New Delhi should also work out a kind of regional cooperation which secures the real interest of both nations and condemned “mischief of foreign powers aimed” at sowing discord between the two countries.

Seeking to push economic ties across sectors such as oil and gas, steel, fertilizer, infrastructure and railways, the minister stressed that India is encouraging its public and private companies to invest in Iran.

“ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) is also in talks with Iranian companies for development of the Azadegan Gas Field and Phase 12 of the South Pars gas field. We would like Iranian investment in India, especially in the oil and gas sectors,” the minister said while outlining synergies in the energy sector between the two countries.

Alluding to centuries-old civilisational links between two close neighbours, Mukherjee called for strengthening cultural and people-to-people links between the two countries.

During his visit to Iran, Mukherjee co-chaired the India-Iran joint commission meeting and called on President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. He also met Foreign Minister Mottaki and Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari.

Backing Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the minister reaffirmed India’s commitment to the $7.4-billion pipeline project and reminded Tehran about honouring its commitment to implement the liquified natural gas deal of 2005 for the supply of five million tonnes of LNG annually to India.

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