External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Saturday embarked on a four-day visit to Iran during which its controversial nuclear energy programme and the proposed IPI gas pipeline project are expected to figure prominently in the bilateral talks.
Krishna's visit is primarily to attend the G-15 meeting of developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America hosted by Iran with an aim of renewing the grouping.
The two-day G-15 meet beginning on Monday will have economic cooperation high on the agenda. During his four-day stay in Tehran, Krishna will have a bilateral meeting with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki when Iran's controversial nuclear programme will be discussed.
India's vote for an international resolution against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency last year had upset Iran and India will use Krishna's visit to "further clarify" its position on the issue.
"The visit will give me an opportunity under the G-15 meetings to have bilateral talks with the Iranian foreign minister and further clarify whatever we have said," Krishna had said on Thursday.
Though India had supported the resolution against Iran over its nuclear programme, it had opposed "a renewed punitive approach or sanctions" against that country and favoured a dialogue to resolve the issue.
Acknowledging that Iran was "not pleased with our vote", Krishna had said India has explained its position and hoped that "Iran would be able to understand and appreciate our position".
The minister said the relationship between the two countries has been very smooth despite the vote issue.
"In the relationship between two countries, there could be times when on one issue there could be certain divergence of views.... That should not halt the overall relationship of friendship between our two countries," he had said.
Krishna and Mottaki are also expected to discuss the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline issue, negotiations for which have been going on for over four years, without any result being in sight. India has been expressing its commitment to the project but wants issues like pricing and security to be addressed.
In Tehran, Krishna will also join leaders from countries like Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Algeria, Chile, Kenya, Nigeria, Malaysia, Mexico, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Zimbabwe at the G-15 meet.
Algeria, Brazil, Senegal, Zimbabwe Venezuela, and Sri Lanka will be represented by their Presidents. Besides, the Syrian president, the Qatari Emir and the Turkish Prime Minister will be special guests, Iran's Mehr news agency said today.