‘India, Iran should replace dying big powers’

Express May 18, 2010

Iran and India must stay together and should not neglect the present opportunities to replace the ‘dying’ big powers, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told visiting External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Tuesday.

Krishna is representing India at the 14th summit of G-15 developing nations in Tehran. On Monday, he met his counterpart Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to discuss bilateral relations and trade ties. According to Indian daily newspaper The Hindu, an Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson said that the Iranian president wanted the two nations to be in touch on regional issues and described the near 30-minute meeting as ‘warm’ and ‘cordial’.

Talking about the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the spokesperson said that “It was briefly mentioned... The two leaders touched upon the situation in the region. The [Iranian] president underlined the desirability [and] need for India and Iran to be in touch [and] to work together,” he said. Ahmadinejad told Krishna that Iran and India should collaborate for three reasons: their cultural characteristics and common historical records, the present regional situation and contemporary world conditions which called for close cooperation, Iran’s official IRNA news agency said.

“He [Ahmadinejad] also underlined the rapidly changing world structure and said that Iran and India should not neglect the present opportunities to replace the dying big powers,” it said. The Iranian president was apparently referring to the US and other western countries. Ahmadinejad said that closer ties between Iran and India will benefit other countries as well because Tehran and New Delhi had always sought peace and security for both the region and the world, the agency said. “India has always played an important role in global affairs including the Non-Aligned Movement [of the 1970s] and G-15 organisations,” the spokesperson said. Krishna also conveyed the greetings of President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to President Ahmadinejad, and to the leadership and people of Iran.

“Krishna congratulated the [Iranian] president and the Iranian government for successfully hosting and conducting the G-15 summit,” the spokesperson said. Recalling India’s civilisational links with Iran, Krishna noted that the two nations had been neighbours (before India’s partition) and have always been good friends. Ahmadinejad said that India and Iran had joint roots and that Iran was happy to see India’s economic development and progress, which was good for the region.

He said that the Indo-Iran Joint Commission would take place shortly and would provide ‘impetus to cooperative and multi-faceted ties’. The last joint commission meeting was held about 18 months ago in Tehran and the next meeting is planned in New Delhi. Krishna’s team includes Indian Ambassador to Iran Sanjay Singh, Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) in the Foreign Office Yash Sinha and other officials, while the Iranian team, comprised deputy foreign minister Mohammad Ali Fathollahi and director general of Asian affairs among others.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 19th,  2010.