Monday, November 29, 1999

India, Iran keen to enhance trade relations

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Ammar Zaidi Tehran, May 16 (PTI) India and Iran today appeared to put behind last year''s IAEA vote as they expressed keenness to enhance trade relations and shared concerns over terrorism emanating from the region. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, the third most powerful leader in the Islamic Republic, today met during which the two sides agreed to call at the earliest the meeting of Indo-Iran Joint Commission, which is "the most important instrument to review bilateral relations and give impetus to ties". Both sides expressed mutual desire to enhance bilateral trade and "discussed regional issues of mutual interest," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said after the 40-minute meeting between the two leaders. "India has always had very cordial relations with Iran. We indeed look up to strengthening our relations (with Iran)," Krishna said in his opening remarks at the meeting with Larijani. New Delhi wants to deepen energy and trade ties with Iran, which it views as an important ally in the region. "We are looking forward to strengthening our relations (with Iran)," Krishna said, adding though his visit to Tehran was to attend the G-15 Summit tomorrow, the purpose was mostly bilateral. Admiring India''s rapid economic growth, Larijani said Tehran saw India as an important trading partner. "We have a very cordial and friendly relations with India," he said pointing to the USD 14 billion bilateral trade which Tehran wants to increase further. Iran had been upset after India voted against it at the IAEA in November last year. Subsequently, Iran had written a "nasty" letter to India protesting its action. The two leaders also "exchanged notes on Afghanistan," Prakash said. While the Iranian leader shared Tehran''s perception of the situation in Afghanistan, Krishna dwelled on "the nature of India''s strategic development partnership and the developmental assistance" it is providing to a nation it has civilisational links. "He (Krishna) mentioned that there have been attacks on Indian Embassy and Indians in Afghanistan but our commitment to assisting friends in Afghanistan remains," the spokesperson said. The External Affairs Minister spoke about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh''s vision of South Asia becoming a regional of peace and shared prosperity. He also mentioned about Singh''s meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani on April 29 in Thimpu to say that "India wanted co-ordinal ties with Pakistan." .

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