Saturday, November 21, 2009

Multiple Benefits From Warmer India-Iran Relations

The visit of Iran's Foreign Minister Monouchehr Mottaki to India is certainly important because Iran has shown enthusiasm for India after a long time. It is equally significant in view of the changing political balance in Central Asia.
When George Bush was US President, he had left no stone unturned to isolate Iran in international diplomacy. This aggressive US attitude also had an effect on India-Iran relationship. The signs of possible warmth creeping into it will be good for all concerned. It also suggests that the Obama administration is adopting a different stand on Iran.

Gas Pipeline Project
Controversy surrounds Iran's nuclear program. This situation will continue. The silver lining here is that importance is being attached to dialogue, and not to confrontation. From the viewpoint of conventional energy, Iran stands head and shoulder above others. Fortunately, some progress has again been made on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. This will not only help in our development but will also play an important role in strengthening relations.
It is quite clear that Iran can help to solve the problems of both Iraq and Afghanistan in a big way. It has borders with both countries. It also wields considerable influence in certain areas. The most important factor is that Iran is not likely to be interested in the international maze of terrorism. The Shiite a community is pre-dominant in Iran. Therefore, it also faces problems from Sunni fundamentalists. Since the United States had once shoved it to the enemy camp, Iran wanted to teach it a lesson by helping the fundamentalists in Iraq and Afghanistan. But its long-term interest can never be similar to those of organizations like Al-Qa'ida.

Age-Old Friendship
Moreover, Afghanistan can be reached via Iran, apart from the route via Pakistan. Once the relationship with Iran improves, the dependence on Pakistan in the fight against terror is likely to be reduced.
The most important factor is our age-old friendship with Iran in Central Asia. A zealous relationship with such an important friend is certainly good. It might also help to solve many problems related to energy.

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