Mumbai, May 2 (UNI) Iran's Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei today said his country and India were two of the greatest civilizations in the world sharing 'close and sincere' relations, dating back to centuries.
People of Iran had shared excellent contacts with the people of India based on trust, mutual respect and cultural heritage, he said, adding that Iran considers Indian citizens as its citizens.
In this connection, the Vice President announced that visas would be granted to Indian citizens without any delay.
''We are prepared to make use of any opportunity to strengthen our ties with India,'' he said.
Mr Mashaei, who is also the Head of the Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organisation of Iran, was speaking to Maharashtra Governor S C Jamir at Raj Bhavan here today.
The Vice President is on a four-day visit to India in connection with the Iranian Cultural Week, being held in New Delhi and Mumbai, between April 30 and May 6.
He told Mr Jamir that Iran was keen on strengthening its ties with India in the areas of tourism, culture, business and commerce.
Mr Mashaei said Iran was also expecting to have an Indian Culture Week in Teheran on the lines of Iranian Cultural Week presently underway.
Mentioning that India was home to millions of Persian manuscripts, he said Persian lanauage could serve as a link in bringing people close to each other. He informed the Governor that a special fund had been set up by the Government of Iran to preserve and protect these manuscripts.
Mr Mashaei said Iran was equally interested in setting up a Centre of India Studies in Iran.
Extending a warm welcome to the visiting dignitary, Mr Jamir said culture was common link between Iran and India, based on which the two countries could build on their relationship.
The Governor told the Vice President that over 2,000 students from Iran were presently studying in Pune and Mumbai Universities.
However, he added that he would like to see their number increased.
The visit by the Iranian Vice President has come just two days after the high profile visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to New Delhi.
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