Wednesday, April 11, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Teheran Declaration signed
Focus on regional stability
T R Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Teheran, April 10
India and Iran unveiled a landmark Teheran Declaration setting the parameters for galvanising international cooperation in meeting the threat of cross-border terrorism, respecting the sovereignty and equality of countries, ensuring that a broad-based government takes shape in Afghanistan, striving for complete disarmament in a fixed timeframe and providing new meaning and content to bilateral cooperation.

The declaration signed by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Iranian President Seyed Mohammad Khatami here tonight heralded a new chapter in the relations between the two countries.

Briefing newspersons, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh described the Teheran declaration “as a path-breaking and a turning point” in the relations between the two countries. “It is a statement of intent which delineates the path to be adopted jointly by India and Iran.”

At the plenary session of the two delegations, Mr Khatami saluted the secular traditions of India and urged Muslims in India to be the first citizens of that country.

India and Iran also underlined the need to work for restructuring the UN and taking effective measures for meeting the challenges posed by globalisation.

Without naming Pakistan for aiding and abetting terrorism, Mr Vajpayee and Mr Khatami emphasised that such machinations must be thwarted and condemned unequivocally.

The two leaders also gave specific directions that sustained efforts must be made to gear up security and steps taken expeditiously for getting the Iran-India gas pipeline completed.

They asked the joint committee studying the Iran-India gas pipeline to formulate its recommendations at the earliest, besides gearing up collaborative efforts in the hydrocarbons sector.

India, however, had strong reservations about the overland pipeline passing through Pakistan because of the highly strained relations between these two immediate neighbours.

Mr Vajpayee and Mr Khatami firmly believed that the joint declarations had set the tone for increased contacts and exchanges at various levels to provide content to the economic and commercial relations between the two countries.

The two leaders drew pointed attention to the tremendous opportunities for enhancing developmental efforts in the West Asia, the CIS countries and others in this region. They drew pointed attention to exploiting the trilateral transit arrangement between India-Iran-Russia and India-Iran-Turkmenistan.

Significantly, Iran had seen substance in India’s contention that cross-border terrorism was having a debilitating impact on developing countries. Mr Khatami expressed Iran’s concerns in this regard and joined hands with India in dealing with this menace. India had taken the initiative for a comprehensive convention against terrorism, which is expected to be taken up at the UN in September.

Regional stability figured prominently in the discussions between the two leaders in the context of the developments in neighbouring Afghanistan. Mr Vajpayee apprised the Iranian leadership about Pakistan’s continuing efforts to aid and abet cross border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and his government’s determination to get the peace process off the ground as that was the overwhelming desire of the people of the troubled border state.

The Prime Minister made it clear that India was always ready for talks but this was not possible when bullets were being fired from across the border and terrorists training their guns at the innocent. He was emphatic that talks and guns could not go together.

Mr Vajpayee, who arrived here to a red carpet welcome on a four-day official visit to Iran, had a tête-à-tête with Mr Khatami before being joined by the two delegations. The two sides signed a clutch of agreements pertaining to energy, information technology, trade and commerce, culture and science and technology.Back

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