Saturday, April 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India, Iran vow to fight terrorism
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Teheran, April 13
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee laid at rest any apprehension that the foundation laid for wide-ranging Indo-Iran partnership was aimed at Pakistan or any third country.

“India and Iran have resolved to work in tandem politically and diplomatically to deal with the growing menace of international terrorism and extremism”, Mr Vajpayee told mediapersons rounding off his highly successful four-day official visit to this country.

Responding to questions that fears had been expressed in certain quarters in Pakistan that the coming together of India and Iran could prove detrimental to Islamabad, the Prime Minister asserted: “Our bilateral relationship is for mutual benefit and not aimed at causing harm or loss to any other country”.

He was categoric that any perception gaining ground about India trying to drive a wedge in the relations between Pakistan and Iran was “farthest from the truth. The depth of Indo-Iran relations, however, occupied a special place”.

Considering the hoary cultural traditions, he said India and Iran had inevitably to come closer. The strategic importance of this relationship could not be undermined. “The Teheran Declaration embodies our vision of the future and we are both committed to working to achieve it”, he emphasised.

He disclosed that the Iranian leadership had strongly supported and welcomed his peace initiative in troubled Jammu and Kashmir coinciding with the holy month of Ramzan. The Kashmir issue came up inevitably during his discussions with the Iranian leaders about the volatile situation in Afghanistan and flashpoints in this region. He reaffirmed India’s stand on the Kashmir issue and the Iranian leaders were appreciative of the measures taken by him to find a peaceful resolution to the protracted problem.

Mr Vajpayee had a meaningful glint in his eyes when he disclosed that the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei, had wished him “all success in his endeavours to promote peace and development”.

He refused to go into the details of his talks with Ayatollah Khamenei yesterday and said mediapersons could draw their conclusions.

The Prime Minister recalled that he had visited Iran for the first time as Foreign Minister during the Janata Party rule in 1978 before the Shah was overthrown in 1979. He said the revolution had brought about tremendous changes in the social and economic fabric of Iran but its ancient cultural ethos had not only remained intact but flourished. “Iran’s soul is very much alive”, he observed.

Asked if he discussed the nuclear issue in the context of India’s offer to Iran in the early nineties to build a 10 mw nuclear reactor in this country, Mr Vajpayee replied in the negative.

Underlining the imperative need for enlarge bilateral economic and commercial relations, the Prime Minister said India was keen to buy oil and natural gas from Iran. He said discussions were on in respect of the Iran-India gas pipeline project. He drew attention to the fact that India had serious security concerns about the overland gas pipeline passing through Pakistan. Iran understood India’s concerns. The Indo-Iran joint committee looking into various options connected with this project has been directed to complete its work speedily and submit its recommendations to New Delhi and Teheran.

In a brief prepared statement at the start of the press conference, the Prime Minister said his visit to Majlis (Iranian Parliament) and interaction with Iranian parliamentarians “has convinced me of the wide and popular support that exists in Iran for providing an impetus to Indo-Iran relations”.

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