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Early meeting of India-Iran Joint Commission favoured

Special Correspondent

Iranian Vice-President calls on Manmohan Singh



FOCUS ON CULTURE: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Iranian Vice-President Rahim Mashaee in New Delhi on Saturday. — Photo: PTI

NEW DELHI: Iranian Vice-President Esfandyar Rahim Mashaee called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday and held discussions with him on bilateral ties. Ties with Iran have come under strain after India voted twice against Teheran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

An External Affairs Ministry statement said: "The two leaders emphasised the importance they attach to the civilisation[al] ties between the two countries and need for further strengthening bilateral cooperation, particularly in the energy sector and promoting the common cultural heritage of the two countries."

Dr. Singh and Mr. Mashaee agreed on the need for an early meeting of the India-Iran Joint Commission.

During Natwar Singh's visit as External Affairs Minister to Teheran in September last, the two sides agreed to hold a Joint Commission meeting in 2006.

Mr. Mashaee, who also heads the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation of Iran, is participating in the Amir Khusro international seminar, being organised by Jamia Millia Islamia. He will visit cultural sites and centres in Agra, Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar.

Iran has not given clearance for a contract signed with India for supply of five million tonnes of liquefied natural gas a year. Soon after New Delhi voted against Teheran in September 2005, an Indian diplomat was told by the Iranians in Vienna that the deal was off. So far, there has been no change in that position.

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