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Whistle-stop tour of Iran Prez likely

It will be Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first visit to India since he assumed the office of in 2005, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury.

india Updated: Apr 22, 2008 02:18 IST
Nilova Roy Chaudhury

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and National Security Adviser (NSA) M.K. Narayanan when he drops in for a brief transit visit to Delhi on April 29, official sources said on Monday. He will make his brief stopover while on his way back from a visit to Sri Lanka.

The reason the visit is a transit visit and not a full-fledged official visit is because it is the Indian PM’s turn to visit Iran. It will be Ahmadinejad’s first visit to India since he assumed the office of Iran’s President in 2005. Mohammad Khatami was the last Iranian President who visited India in 2003 as the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.

“All issues of mutual interest will come up in the discussions,” an official said. Iran’s nuclear issue is likely to figure on the agenda for talks. India favours a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear issue within the purview of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It also opposes punitive sanctions against Iran. The United Nations Security Council has imposed economic sanctions against Tehran for what it claims is lack of transparency about its nuclear programme.

India believes Iran, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has the right to pursue a civilian nuclear energy programme. But it is opposed to any more nuclear weapons states in the region. India and Iran, along with Pakistan, are also trying to work out the logistics of a gas pipeline from Iran to India.

On Sunday, Narayanan sought more sympathetic international treatment of Iran, calling it a major country with tremendous influence. “In dealing with Iran, we are better poised and better placed than anyone else. Please do not treat Iran like any other nation.” he said.