New Delhi: Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh leaves Tuesday for Tehran to attend the
NAM summit Aug 30-31, preceded by a meeting with Iranian President
Manmohan Singh will seek to reinvigorate ties with Iran at the
meeting with Ahmadinejad Wednesday during which the two leaders
will discuss a range of issues, including trade, Foreign Secretary
Ranjan Mathai told reporters here Saturday.
"Our relations have been strong. As for trade, the balance is in
favour of Iran and we would concentrate on increasing trade,"
Mathai, who will Sunday attend a trilateral India-Afghanistan-Iran
meeting in Tehran ahead of the NAM summit, said.
India's imports from Iran in 2011-12 were at $12 billion and
exports were at $3 billion.
Asked whether Washington had raised its concerns over Iran at the
meeting here earlier this week between visiting US Permanent
Representative to the UN Susan Rice and Indian officials,
including Mathai, the foreign secretary said: "We did discuss
issues relating to Iran but informally."
Pressed whether India would convey the US concerns on Iran, Mathai
replied: "Peace and security are our (India's) primary concerns.
This is our concern and we don't have to take anyone else's
concern as a priority."
To a query on whether the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project was
still on, Yash Sinha, joint secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Iran), who was also present at the briefing, said the issue would
be discussed at next month's meeting in New Delhi of the
India-Iran joint working group on hydrocarbons.
According to Mathai, meetings are also planned on the sidelines of
the NAM summit between Manmohan Singh and Iran's Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as also the leaders of Pakistan,
Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal. He, however, would not go into
specifics of what was expected of the meeting between Manmohan
Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
"We are also hoping for a pull-aside with the president of Egypt
(the currrent NAM secretary general)," Mathai added.
This will be Manmohan Singh's third NAM summit after Havana (2006)
and Sharm el Sheikh (2009).
Asked about India's expectations from the summit, Mathai said:
"NAM remains as relevant today as when it was created (in 1961).
We need to re-invigorate the movement for a greater focus on the
issues of global governance, reform of international institutions,
food security and energy."
"The time has come to give grater emphasis to global issues," he
Questioned about New Delhi's stand on the Iran's reported move to
press for a resolution on Syria at the NAM summit, Mathai said
India did not believe that the declaration that would be adopted
would go beyond what had been stated in the final document of the
ministerial meeting of the NAM coordinating bureau at Sharm el
Sheikh in May.
On Syria, the document says: "The Ministers took note of the
efforts of the international community to deal with the situation
in Syria. They welcomed the efforts by (former UN secretary
general) Mr. Kofi Annan, and called for full implementation of the
joint envoy's plan and its six points, and the Security Council
resolutions" on the issue.
"We fully endorse this position," Mathai said.