Foreign Secretaries of India, Iran and Afghanistan likely meeting in Tehran today

A trilateral meeting among foreign secretaries of India, Afghanistan and Iran is likely to be held in Tehran on Sunday. The meeting is expected to discuss development of the Chabahar port.

“It is in our common interest to develop this port. The use of Chabahar and related infrastructure is an alternative route to Afghanistan. There are a number of options on the table. Separately, there is also an idea of developing an industrial zone. The Iranians also have plans for developing the rail lines. What we possibly need is a kind of a joint working group at the experts’ level to take up what needs to be decided. But these are early days yet,” Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told newspersons, when asked about the agenda for the meeting.

Mathai was briefing the media on the forthcoming Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meet in Tehran on August 30-31. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will represent India at the meeting of 16 heads of State.

Bilateral trade

On bilateral trade between India and Iran, Mathai said trade relations had been improving in the last few years. “The balance of trade is in Iran’s favour because of large-scale oil purchases. We would certainly like to expand exports to Iran,” he added, pointing out that during 2011-12, bilateral trade stood at about $15 billion.

During the Tehran visit, the Prime Minister is expected to meet leaders from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal. “The meetings are subject to scheduling arrangements,” Mathai said. The Prime Minister is also scheduled to meet Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

This will be the third NAM Summit in which the Prime Minister will participate, Mathai added.

ashwini.phadnis@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 25, 2012)
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