New Delhi: Seeking to make a common cause
with Iran in dealing with Afghan situation, India today
stressed the need to avoid the return of "fundamentalist and
extremist groups" as deepening of "Afghan conundrum" could
have a "deleterious impact on our two countries."
Describing regional stability as an area where interests
converge and potential for cooperation was the greatest
between the two countries, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said
"We are both neighbours of Afghanistan and Pakistan and have
both long suffered from the threat of trans-national terrorism
emanating from beyond our borders."
"Neither of our countries wish to see the prospect of
fundamentalist and extremist groups once again suppressing the
aspirations of the Afghan people and forcing Afghanistan back
to being a training ground and sanctuary for terrorist groups.
"...We need to move beyond mere articulation of positions
as the Afghan conundrum deepens and could have a deleterious
impact on our two countries and the region in case the forces
of extremism and obscurantism are made arbiters of the fate of
the Afghan people," She said.
Delivering an address at `IDSA-IPIS Strategic Dialogue on
India and Iran: an enduring relationship`, Rao said the
cooperation and information sharing on counter-terrorism must
be the subject of more intensive focus and attention in the
future between the countries.
She reiterated the need for structured, systematic and
regular consultations with Iran on Afghanistan situation.
In this context, she also underlined the importance of
building upon the progress already made on joint cooperation
projects between India and Iran in the region, and put in
place mechanisms for carrying forward the cooperation in these
areas, including the Chabahar Port Project.
She emphasised on the need for accelerating the joint
efforts to fully realise the potential of the port as well as
the associated railway project.
"These are projects that are in the common interest of
India, Iran and Afghanistan, but also the countries of Central
Asia. Improving the connectivity of Chabahar Port to the
Zaranj-Delaram Highway, which was built with Indian assistance
despite terrorist threats and with the sacrifice of Indian and
Afghan lives, will open up the Indian market to Afghan
agricultural and other exports.
"It will also help in combating the scourge of illicit
drugs production and export which has affected Iran more than
any other country, and assist the trade, transport and transit
network of Iran," the Foreign secretary said.
Referring to the upcoming bilateral Joint Commission
meeting between the two countries here on July 8-9, Rao said
India looks forward to these discussions and the follow up
meetings to instil fresh momentum in relations, particularly
in the strategic areas that have been identified above.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Iranian
Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance Shamsuddin Husseini
will lead India and Iran delegations respectively in the