Iran seeks closer ties with India, discusses Afghanistan

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 04, 2013 15:10 hrs

New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) Under fire from the West over its suspect atomic programme, Iran Friday made a strong pitch for deepening relations with India in security and economic ares saying the two countries face "common threats and interests".

The two countries also explored the prospects of cooperation in Afghanistan in the the run-up to the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country in 2014 and beyond.

"We have common interests and threats. This calls for more interactions, more talks and more consultations," Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, also secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, told reporters here.

"Cooperation in security field, political field and economic field gives us opportunity to expand relations in cultural field also," he said.

He underlined that the future of the Iran-India relationship is "very good" and bilateral ties will grow.

Alluding to his talks with National Security Adviser Shivshanakar Menon, Jalili said: "We had good cooperation and good discussion on our common threat. There are certain regional issues like organised crime, drug trafficking and terrorism.

"There are common threats in the region like organised crime, terrorism and new elements like piracy. These are issues that call for cooperation and provide for opportunities."

The talks also focused on closer cooperation and consultations on issues related to Afghanistan.

The two sides discussed the progress in the construction of the Chabahar port in Iran.

Jalili also underlined the importance of the North-South corridor, saying it "is one of the most important projects, a strategic project which can promote mutual relations and multilateral ties".

He added the Chabahar port would allow India to export Indian goods to various parts of the world.

Jalili stressed that democracy was the answer to the woes of Afghanistan and stressed that Iran was in favour of an Afghan people-driven policy after the withdrawal of foreign troops.

India and Iran share an unease about the West's push for a political settlement with the so-called "good Taliban" that could endanger their security interests.

Jalili said earlier that India and other regional players should work together to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

"Countries like India and Pakistan should evolve a joint strategy for the stabilization of Afghanistan," he told the media after holding talks with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

"It is a matter of concern that American and Western nations have failed to eradicate terrorism in Afghanistan in the past 10 years," he said.

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, India and Iran along with Russia backed the opposition Northern Alliance.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the only three countries which recognized the Taliban regime.

Jalali discussed bilateral and regional issues with Chidambaram. They also held talks on forming a suitable mechanism for payment of crude oil dues to Iran.

The US and European countries have imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

Jalili also met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on developments in the Gulf and Syria and on Iran's nuclear issue.

He welcomed resumption of talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this month.

He reiterated that his country's stand that its nuclear programme was purely for peaceful purpose. "We do not have any other intention."

Iran is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the IAEA and abides by their rules and regulations.

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