Indian FM’s Iran Visit a Move to Enhance Ties

A03613127.jpgTEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- The timing of Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon’s visit to Iran will inevitably lead to speculation that India has decided to take forward its relationship with Iran after a US intelligence report endorsed the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

Menon will be in Tehran between Saturday and Tuesday.

The ostensible reason for the visit is the annual foreign office consultations between the two countries and a return visit after the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister visited New Delhi last year. On the table will be an ONGC-Videsh potential deal on the Yadavaran oil and gas field. ONGC-Videsh Limited hopes to get a 20% stake in Yadavaran, but this is tied to the LNG deal with India that was withheld in September 2005. The original deal was that India would get a 10% stake in Yadavaran, 10% in Jufeyr and 5 million tons of LNG annually for 25 years.

Indian Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, in a February visit to Tehran, had said clearly that India wanted the original deal to be honored. It is not clear whether new negotiations will be entered into.

But India’s relations with Iran are no longer what they used to be, specially after New Delhi showed hesitations and postponed its partnership in a $7.4 bln pipeline which would take Iran’s gas to India via Pakistan.

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