Do not allow US to damage relations: Iran to India

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Dubai, Dec 17: Holding that its relations with India posed no threat to any third country, Iran has asked New Delhi not to allow ''certain trans-regional powers'' to impair its relations with Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki made the veiled reference to the US, during a meeting with visiting Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon in Tehran yesterday. The US has opposed India's increasing ties with Iran, especially in the energy sector as a multibillion dollar gas pipeline passing through Pakistan has been under discussion for many years.

Mr Mottaki viewed Mr Menon's Tehran visit as significant, and reminded that the two countries' historical relations indicated their joint interests, the Iranian Fars news agency reported.

''Iran believes that the two countries enjoy joint interests in their bilateral, regional and international relations,'' he said, adding,''The Islamic Republic of Iran is an independent country and makes fully independent decisions in its relations with other countries.'' Significantly, during the fifth round of strategic talks in Tehran, India and Iran decided to broaden ties in energy, transportation and security, saying the two countries should increase the level of cooperation to help preserve stability and peace in the region.

At the talks attended by Iran's deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari and Mr Menon, the two sides voiced satisfaction over the bilateral relations but stressed the need to increase the current 9 billion dollar trade turnover, a statement released by Iranian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Bureau said.

Mr Menon underlined New Delhi's resolve to further expand relations with the Islamic Republic during the meeting with Mr Mottaki.

He described the two countries' relations as friendly, and viewed Iran and India as two significant countries in the region which enjoy stability, reiterating that consolidation of ties between them would contribute to regional stability.

''Expansion of ties with Iran is a priority for India's foreign policy and India seeks to further develop relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran,'' Mr Menon reiterated.


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