India, Iran discuss terror from Pakistan, gas pipeline


New Delhi : The foreign ministers of India and Iran Monday held wide-ranging talks here about terrorism emanating from Pakistan while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reportedly reiterated New Delhi’s commitment to take forward the three-nation gas pipeline also involving Pakistan.

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External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna held delegation-level talks with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki on a range of bilateral and regional issues including energy security, trade, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and enhanced collaboration in science and technology.

The volatile situation in Afghanistan and the role of Pakistan-based terrorist outfits in fomenting unrest in the region dominated the discussions, said diplomatic sources.

Iran sought greater cooperation with India in countering terrorism.

A horrific suicide attack in southeast Iran in October targeted the country’s Revolutionary Guards and was blamed on Pakistan-based Jundallah, a Sunni extremist outfit which claimed responsibility. It was the first time terror outfits in Pakistan targeted Iranian territory.

As Iran and India share common interests in Afghanistan, they also discussed joint infrastructure projects like the deep sea port of Chabahar and a rail link to provide better connectivity for Afghanistan to Central Asia.

The Iranian side pressed for accelerating negotiations to resolve and address Indian concerns about the pricing of Iranian gas and the security of the pipeline, which is expected to pass through violence-prone areas of Pakistan.

Mottaki began his two-day visit Monday by calling on Manmohan Singh, who assured him about India’s commitment to taking the pipeline project forward, the sources said.

This is the first high-level engagement between the two countries since the re-election of the Manmohan Singh government and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.