Shortly after he arrives in New Delhi on Tuesday, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will meet President Pratibha Patil. He will then hold “substantive discussions” with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a private dinner, also attended by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and National Security Adviser MK Narayanan.
The agenda is likely to focus on the feasibility of getting the $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline functional. Energy security and availability of energy resources is high on the Indian government’s priority list. “The atmosphere is now more conducive for the IPI gas pipeline to go through because India and Pakistan seem to be close to agreement,” an Iranian diplomat said.
Iran’s nuclear problems are also likely to figure in the talks. India favours a diplomatic resolution to the issue within the purview of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It also opposes punitive sanctions against Iran, but has to comply with them because the UN Security Council unanimously imposed economic sanctions against Tehran for what it claims is lack of transparency about its nuclear programme.
According to an Indian official: “All issues of mutual interest will come up.” Ahmadinejad, who made a brief official stopover in Pakistan on his way to Sri Lanka on Monday, will leave India after a brief transit visit on Tuesday night itself.