As the UPA grappled with the nuclear deal imbroglio, National Security Adviser MK Narayanan was in Tehran meeting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Narayanan’s visit, which was not announced, is significant given that the Left have repeatedly criticised the UPA for voting against Iran at the IAEA board in 2005 and 2006.
The Left, in fact, has stressed time and again that India had abandoned its independent foreign policy and pointed to the twin anti-Iran votes as proof of New Delhi bending before the US.
By sending Narayanan as his “special envoy” to Tehran, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has demonstrated that his government is more than willing to engage Iran even as it moved forward to finalise the civil nuclear deal with the US.
Given American sensitivities on Iran, Narayanan’s visit will be closely watched. It may be recalled that American lawmakers have repeatedly expressed unhappiness at India’s contacts with Iran.
“We consider the pipeline an important issue, which can help build confidence among the three states. Iran and India have two old ancient civilizations and laying the pipeline can strengthen friendly bonds between the two countries,” Narayanan was quoted as saying by the IRNA news agency in Tehran on Monday.