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'India's stability and progress are important for Iran'

Last updated on: August 29, 2012 22:32 IST

'India's stability and progress are important for Iran'

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Nikhil Lakshman in Tehran

Said Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni when he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Tehran on Wednesday evening

"India's religious diversity must not harm India's national unity," Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni told Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh when the two men met on Wednesday evening.

During Khamenei's 40-minute meeting with Dr Singh, the ayatollah mentioned how impressed he was with Mahatma Gandhi's "heroic visage" and his leadership of India's freedom movement that had inspired Jawaharlal Nehru to conceive the Non Aligned Movement, which Iran will chair for the next three years beginning Thursday, August 30.

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Image: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh meets Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamenei on the sidelines of the XVI Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran


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'India's stability and progress are important for Iran'

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Khamenei, who occupies a position at the very apex of Iranian political and spiritual life, recalled his visit to India in 1981 and his meeting with then prime minister Indira Gandhi and then external affairs minister P V Narasimha Rao.

He told Dr Singh that he was impressed with India's progress in the last twenty years and predicted that India's future would be even better. "It is important for Iran that India is stable and have progress," the ayatollah said.

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Image: PM chats with Khamenei as Iran President Ahmadinejad looks on
Photographs: PIB

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'India's stability and progress are important for Iran'

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Earlier on Wednesday evening, Dr Singh met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad for an hour. Considering the main NAM summit begins on Thursday morning, the Iranian's gesture of hosting a dinner on Wednesday night for the visiting Indian leader was interpreted by one Indian diplomat of the importance Iran attributes to India-Iran relations.

The prime minister and Ahmedinejad --  who last met on April 29, 2008 in New Delhi -- reviewed bilateral relations, especially the emphasis on trade in recent years.

Dr Singh asked the Iranians to import more Indian goods, especially wheat, and restore the balance in India-Iran trade ($15 billion currently -- India imports $12 billion of Iranian goods, mostly crude oil, while Iran imports just $2.5 billion, mostly commodities like soyabean).

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Image: Iran President Ahmadinejad interacts with Dr Singh


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'India's stability and progress are important for Iran'

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While both leaders discussed the Chabahar port, Iran's nuclear programme (India hoped that there would be progress in the P5+1 talks with Iran in the interests of peace and stability in the region), Afghanistan and Syria, it is not known if Dr Singh raised the February 13 attack on an Israeli diplomat's car, which the Delhi police has accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards of masterminding.


Image: Dr Singh and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna are being welcomed by Iran President Ahmadinejad before a meeting
Photographs: PIB

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