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Iran’s Speaker coming to India; N-plan in focus
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, February 24
Ahead of the next round of talks between Tehran and the P 5+1 countries in Kazakhstan over the controversial nuclear programme of the Islamic republic, Iran is sending its Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani to India next week for talks on a range of issues.

India is expected to impress upon Iran to fulfil its international obligations and to address questions raised in the IAEA about its nuclear programme. New Delhi would also try to assess how Iran proposes to end its stand-off with the West over the nuclear issue.

Larijani has been a key player on the Iranian political scene since the Iranian Revolution and is important in the decision-making process at the highest echelons of the regime.

Larijani, who is coming here at the invitation of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, is understood to have sought meetings with President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders. Larijani will be visiting Mumbai and New Delhi during the course of the visit.

He had recently met Indian Ambassador to Iran D P Srivastava in Tehran and emphasised the role the two countries could play in the international arena. Both sides are confident that the visit would prove to be an important step towards expansion of bilateral ties.

On the eve of the visit, informed sources said India believed Iran has a right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme but not one designed to manufacture nuclear weapons. At the same time, New Delhi believes that the issue needs to be resolved through peaceful talks and not by extreme measures like sanctions which only affect the common people.

New Delhi is also hopeful that the Kazakhstan meeting on February 26 between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council-the US, Britain, France, China and Russia-and Germany would make progress in resolving the issue.

Since India has had age-old links with Iran, major world powers have from time to time urged New Delhi to use its good offices to impress on Iran to abandon its nuclear programme. Earlier this month, French President Francois Hollande, during his visit to New Delhi, had urged India to ‘convince’ its ‘close friend’ Iran to enter into serious negotiations with major powers over its nuclear ambition.

The US, meanwhile, continues to mount pressure on India to reduce its economic engagement with Iran.





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