Against the backdrop of escalating Western pressure on Iran over its suspect nuclear programme, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna goes to Tehran next week to represent India at the G-15 summit and to hold bilateral talks with his Iranian counterpart.
Tehran will host the May 17-18 G-15 summit of developing countries, a forum that now comprises 18 nations from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Besides India and Iran, the G-15 comprises Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, Jamaica, Mexico, Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
Krishna will go to Tehran after a three-day trip to Kazakhstan that ends April 13. He is likely to go to Iran March 15, sources said.
Krishna will hold bilateral talks with his Iranian counterpart, the Bangalore-educated Manouchehr Mottaki, with whom he shares a good personal rapport.
The visit comes against the backdrop of a plan by Western powers to impose new sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme suspected to be for making atomic bombs.
Krishna is likely to clarify India's position on this issue to the Iranian leadership and stress that New Delhi has always advocated dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.
India has voted in favour of IAEA resolutions on the Iranian nuclear programme - an issue that has caused much heartburn in Tehran.
The two ministers are set to discuss the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project. Iran and Pakistan sealed pacts to launch the gas pipeline nearly two months ago, but India continues to have issues relating to pricing and security of the project.
These issues will be discussed afresh during this visit, official sources said.
Krishna will hold consultations on the evolving situation in Afghanistan, specially in view of a West-backed proposal for reintegration of the Taliban, an idea both New Delhi and Tehran are not comfortable with.
Krishna was set to go to Tehran in the last week of March for the Navroz celebrations, but had to call off the trip because the Iranians changed the dates of his visit twice.