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471 words - May 6, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
India's External Affairs Minister (EAM) Shri Salman Khurshid has been visiting Iran for the 17th meeting of the India-Iran Joint Commission from May 3 to 5.
In July 2010 speech at the IDSA-IPIS Strategic Dialogue, then-Foreign Secretary of India Nirupama Rao told the two countries shared an "enduring relationship." As part of India's "proximate neighborhood", Iran holds a strategic position, is a major source of India's energy and hydrocarbon supplies and Tehran's policies greatly impact India's security, especially on Afghanistan, the Indian official explained.
As the co-chairperson of the Joint Commission along with his counterpart the Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi, Mr. Khurshid said he tackled all bilateral matters in meetings with senior officials and the political leadership of Iran, including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, Ali Akbar Velayati, the Advisor to the Supreme Leader and Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Iranian Majlis. The two sides discussed India's participation in Chahbahar Port project which "will provide connectivity with Afghanistan and will give an impetus to Afghanistan's economic development."
Energy was also a major topic of the bilateral discussions which notably led to the signing of a cooperation agreement in the field of water resources management. One year ago, then-EAM Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna told then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that despite growing pressure from the international community about Iran's nuclear program, Iran remained an important source of oil for India. Secretary Clinton welcomed "the progress India is making to reduce its purchases of oil from Iran and hoped to see continuing progress." Her Indian counterpart replied that the decline in Indian energy imports from Iran were "based on commercial, financial, and technical considerations" made by refineries.
The Indian and Iranian parties also talked about the developing situation in Afghanistan and agreed to remain in regular contact. "They reaffirmed their support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan," a Joint Press Statement said. The two sides also reiterated the importance of greater connectivity between Russia, Central and South Asia through the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
India and Iran expressed their strong concern "on the continuing and unabated violence" in Syria. The delegations called upon all sides in Syria to "abjure violence and resolve all issues peacefully through discussions," and renewed their support to the Geneva Communiqué, including the 6-Point Plan of Kofi Annan, and welcomed the Joint Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's efforts. Three Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) were signed. One MoU is to increase exchanges between India's Foreign Service Institute and Iran's School of International Relations.
Lastly, the Indian official inaugurated the Indian Culture Centre in Tehran and interacted with the Indian community that counts several hundred people mostly living in Tehran and Zahidan and whose ties with India are still strong.
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