Singh talks N-standoff with Iran
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed hope that the ongoing international efforts with Iran to diffuse the nuclear standoff would yield results for "peace and progress of the region." Singh met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for an hour, where the leaders discussed both bilateral and regional issues, including the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Iran is locked in a standoff with international community over its uranium enrichment rights. India has supported Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy but maintains that it must meet its obligations under the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The International Atomic Energy Agency has accused Iran of trying to hide its nuclear programme from inspection. Iran has used the ongoing Non Alignment Movement (NAM) summit to counter the perception that it is internationally isolated.
India had sought meetings with Ahmadinejad and Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei during the PM's NAM visit. Ahmadinejad also hosted a banquet in honour of Singh.
Singh told Ahmadinejad that Iran must buy more Indian goods in order to reduce the trade imbalance. Currently, of the US $15 billion between the two countries, Indian exports to Iran are only US $2.5 billion. PM Singh urged Ahmadinejad to facilitate trade of Indian wheat, currently restricted by phytosanitary conditions set by Iran.
The leaders decided to "facilitate bilateral and trilateral," cooperation on Chabahar port that will serve as an important port for trade and transit.
The port project in the southeast of Iran has been slowed down due to international sanctions. The leaders also discussed Afghanistan, Syria and West Asia. "They agreed on the need to for regular consultations on economic reconstruction and development of Afghanistan," said an official. External Affairs minister SM Krishna will visit Iran in November.