New Delhi: Terming the Persian Gulf region India`s "natural partner", Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Sunday reiterated that India supports Iran`s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and will join hands with the international community to counter problems of piracy in the Indian Ocean.
"India`s stand on the Iran nuclear issue has been consistent. We support the right of all states, including Iran, to peaceful uses of nuclear energy consistent with their international obligations," Rao said at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) conference on "India and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Iran and Iraq: Emerging Security Perspectives".
Nearly 100 delegates from India and the Gulf region are participating in the two-day conference, inaugurated Saturday by Vice President Hamid Ansari.
The GCC countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Rao said that the problem of piracy in the Indian Ocean "has dramatically illustrated potential threats that we all face", adding that India has expressed its readiness to play its part in combating this menace with the international community under the leadership of the UN.
Rao also stressed on the need for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan and Palestine.
"The restoration of stability in Afghanistan and assistance to the people and government of Afghanistan as they build a peaceful, democratic, pluralistic and prosperous society is in the common interest of all our countries."
She said that the issue of Palestine is of abiding concern to both the regions and that the situation "requires to be resolved at the earliest... We continue to extend our full support to the Palestinians in realising their aspirations for a sovereign, independent, viable and united state living side by side, and at peace with the state of Israel".
Rao reiterated India`s desire to an enhanced partnership with the GCC countries and Iran and Iraq.
"This is not only a strategic and economic imperative but would also represent a natural progression from our historical and civilisational ties which have few, if any, parallels in the world," she said.