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Home > India > News > Report

IPI pipeline issues to be sorted out in 45 days: Iran president

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | April 30, 2008 03:32 IST

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On April 29, one needed to pinch oneself while attending the press conference of Iran's one of a kind President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In just two years after India voted against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna in February 2006 for referring the Iran nuclear issue to the UN Security Council, Ahmadinejad was telling the media in New Delhi that he is a younger brother of India.

He said clearly that the issue of India's vote against Iran is "an issue related to past." "We are now looking towards the future," he added.

"We love the people of India very much. Our two nations form the cradle of civilization. Indian people are kind, gentle, hardworking and justice-seekers," Ahmadinejad said.

On Iran and India relations, the most important thing he said in his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] is that a 45-day time limit is fixed to sort out issues related to the IPI pipeline among the three countries -- India, Pakistan and Iran.

Then, again, the IPI issue will come up before the political leadership of the three countries. He described the IPI as the pipeline of peace and prosperity.

When asked about extending the pipeline to China, he said, "We have received one proposal. We will evaluate it and consider its merit and evaluate all aspects of the proposal."

He did discuss Afghanistan with Dr Singh, but didn't elaborate on the subject. He said the development of Chabahar port is important and the issue did come for discussion when he met Dr Singh over a working dinner.

However, his focus was America and he hit it with the precision and force of his Persian words. He was using his short trip to India to raise his profile in the region and earn kudos back home.

He said, "US is a failing power. America is no more the same America. They are at the end of their life... at the end of their road."

In the presence of Indian Ambassador Manbir Singh, he said his visit to India should not be surprising.

"We are friends. We are not afraid of anybody. We are not a threat. The bullying powers are collapsing. It's the end of the road for them.We should prepare ourselves for the situation that will come up after the collapse," he said.

While embarrassing the Indian establishment he added gleefully that it is necessary to discuss "with a friendly country the post-collapse scenario." He also blamed the failing American dollar for the extremely high oil prices.

He said the value of dollar was decreasing. "Dollar is not the same dollar. It is just paper. They just publish it and send it to the market," the president said.

India's quest for energy security had given this unabashed anti-American politician a platform in a country from where more than 70,000 students go to US every year and more than 7 lakh visas are sought by Indians to fly to the US.

Using profound Farsi words he was bashing America in front of two dozen TV cameras.

Not an usual sight in New Delhi where Aspen group meetings attracts an elite crowd and where just a few years back president Bill Clinton [Images] was gheraoed by autograph seeking Members of Parliament right inside Parliament.

In his one-hour long press conference, almost all his answers would have "that bullying power". It was his maiden visit to New Delhi, but he took maximum advantage of it, that too effortlessly.

Ahmadinejad looks like an aam admi wearing a borrowed suit. India has seen the flawless charm of Mohammed Khatami, but Ahmadinejad was for real.

He was calculative, smiling and of course, a Iranian to the core. Like most Iranians do, he used difficult, lofty words and escaped giving facts on Iran's actual position on nuclear ambition.

When asked straight if his country would support a government in Afghanistan with Taliban elements in it, he didn't agree or disagree.

He was his usual self while punching America, but while talking about India, about his meeting with Dr Singh and about the most talked about issues of the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, he was reticent, cautious and respectful.

Excpectedly, he played on the theme of Iran and India's "old civilization" effectively when asked some realistic or awkward question.

When asked if the LNG gas project got affected because of India's vote against Iran, he said, "IAEA receives and takes votes. The vote has its own impact. But our relations are deeper than that."

When asked if India expressed its concern over Iran's nuclear programme when he met Dr Singh, the president said, "There is no reason for concern. It is for the benefit of all. India has got the same feeling. There is no place for concerns."

He said that India supports Iran's peaceful nuclear energy programme.

His condemnation of the US was done so assuredly as if he was addressing a native crowd in the downtown area of Tehran.

Friends of Iran may argue that if Nancy Pelosi can take on China from Dharamsala, why should Ahmadinejad spare "that bullying power" America from Janpath in New Delhi?

There was a focus behind his display of anger against America in New Delhi.

"Iraq's condition is critical. We do not want to provide benefit to the US, but we want to help the people of Iraq," Ahmadinejad said.

He said millions of people cross both sides of the border of Iraq and Iran. The people of Iraq are friends of Iran. He didn't forget to remind once more to the US to evacuate the region as soon as possible.

He said the US doesn't have the capacity to attack Iran. "They dare not do it," he said.

He once again raised doubts about 9/11 casualties and questioned how such attacks can take place in spite of  intense security in the US.

He said the US was not providing the names of the 3,000 people who had died in the attack on the twin towers in New York, while the names of millions of people who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq are available.

He even took a jibe at the US by saying that it would not allow a African-American man as president.

Ahmadinejad said the American election doesn't matter to the world as before.

Ahmadinejad's visit highlighted the Indian leadership's concerns for India's energy security.

That came out quite concisely in an unexpected column written on the eve of the president's visit by none other than S P Hinduja, chairman of the Hinduja group.

He tried to make sense of President Ahmadinejad's visit when he wrote, "An early confirmation by Tehran that participation of ONGC [Get Quote] Videsh Ltd and our (Hinduja) Group in the South Pars Phase 12, which entitles access to LNG, will help set up downstream petrochemical projects in both countries. Similarly, the OVL-Hinduja Group's participation in the development of the Azadegan oil field will make available another source of hydrocarbon. The meeting on the IPI pipeline gives hope for optimism."

In around 45 days, the Indo-US nuclear deal will have to be moved forward decisively if the US administration want to take it to the US Congress. Also, in 45 days, Iran will know if India is politically ready to join the IPI pipeline.

Meanwhile, before ending his stretched out press conference Ahamdinejad told the media that economic power or prosperity has no effect in the world compared to what the power of thought and culture can have.

The president of Iran came to the Shangrila Hotel on Tuesday when the US is fighting a bloody battle on the right and left side of his country.

His country is branded among the 'Axis of Evil' and its nuclear programme is disapproved by friendly countries like Russia [Images] and China, too.

And here he was talking to US-friendly India about international issues, taking the help of a cocky mix of theology, diplomacy and business.