India is keen on Iranian investments: Pranab

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Dubai, Nov 3: The Indian Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee has said the government of India is encouraging its public and private companies to invest in Iran. Addressing a seminar in Tehran entitled 'India and Iran: Ancient Civilisations and Modern Nations,' he added, ''We hope that such projects for mutual interests would continue to enjoy the support of the government of Iran.'' ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) has discovered significant quantities of gas and oil during exploratory work during 2004-07 at an estimated cost of 90 million dollar, he said, adding that OVL is also in talks with Iranian companies for development of the Azadegan gas field and phase 12 of the South Pars gas field.

''We would like Iranian investment in India, especially in the oil and gas sectors,'' he said, stressing that Iran is a very important producer of hydrocarbons and India is a major consumer. However, mutual investment proposals will be snarled by sanctions on major Iranian banks with which Indian banks deal.

In the past, both the countries had successfully collaborated in setting up the Madras refinery project, the Kudremukh iron ore project and Madras fertilizer project besides the Irano-Hind Shipping Company, Mr Mukherjee said.

''We lay particular emphasis on signing of bilateral investment protection and promotion agreement and the double taxation avoidance agreement to promote and protect bilateral investments. We have also stressed the importance of further strengthening cultural and people-to-people links, which would continue to be the bedrock of our relations,'' he reiterated.

''Throughout history, our countries have seen an inter-mingling of our people and cultures. Our civilisations reached unparalleled heights of sophistication and achievement when the rest of the world was in darkness,'' the Indian Minister for External Affairs emphasised.

The Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said Tehran and New Delhi held identical views on the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are interested in regional peace and stability particularly in these two countries. Mr Mottaki stressed that Tehran and New Delhi should also materialise a kind of regional cooperation which secures the real interest of both the nations and is far from conspiracies of the foreign powers.

He condemned mischiefs of foreign powers aimed at sowing discord between the two states, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Voicing Iran's support for expansion of India's foreign policy in line with the country's economic development, Mr Mottaki expressed the hope that such a move by New Delhi would lead to further boost Iran-India relations and help establish regional peace and security.

Expressing his satisfaction with the current level of bilateral cooperation between the two countries, he said there are great potentials for further expansion of trade, economic and industrial relations between the two nations.

Mr Mottaki expressed satisfaction with the current volume of trade exchange between the two countries which is the outcome of 15th Iran-India Joint Economic Commission meeting.

Sharing deep-rooted historical and cultural bounds, the two countries have always adopted a strategic approach to meet the two nations' interests, he said.

Highlighting the two sides' capabilities in various sectors, he said there are huge potentials for joint investments and increasing volume of trade exchange.

He hoped to witness expansion of all-out ties between the two countries, the official IRNA news agency reported.

On global economic meltdown, Mr Mottaki said the current economic crisis requires countries to broaden cooperation and contribute to implementing development projects.

The Indian Foreign Minister, for his part, said ties between Iran and India have always remained close and have never been affected by any pressure as the two sides take into account each other's interests in their relations.

Highlighting the significant status of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), he said, ''They (NAM member states) have always adopted a multilateral approach in dealing with discrimination and injustice, and acted independently and we are to purse the same path.

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