November 15, 2009 3:07:00 am
When Iran and India sit across the table for a high-level series of talks next week,the common link of two troubled neighbours Pakistan and Afghanistan will dominate discussions. A new trade route to Afghanistan and the common threat of terror originating from Pakistan will come up for discussions when Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki comes for his two-day visit here starting Monday.
Mottaki,who will be the first senior leader to visit India since the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in July,will hold a series of discussions with his Indian counterparts on a variety of issues,including energy security,the proposed gas pipeline project as well as terror groups in Pakistan that are targeting both India and Iran.
India is keen to take forward discussions on the development of the Chabahar port in south Iran and an integrated railway line to Bam that would provide a direct trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
With the Zaranj-Delaram road link in Afghanistan already completed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO),India is keen that the rail link from the Iranian deep sea port of Chabahar to Bam gets completed at the earliest,connecting it to the main Garland highway in Afghanistan.
Sources said the rail link and port expansion project would also be discussed at a joint working group meeting between the countries that would be convened shortly. We are keen to see it through so that it can be used for trade with Central Asia and Afghanistan, they said.
The two sides will also discuss the proposed gas pipeline that would come through Pakistan. While India has expressed its keenness for the project,the proposed pipeline is not on the immediate horizon,given safety concerns and differences on pricing. However,the sources pointed out that both sides were working to sort out differences and were keen on the project.
Mottaki,who will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and will hold discussions with his Indian counterpart S M Krishna,is also expected to discuss the security situation in Pakistan that is affecting both the countries.
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