North-south corridor key to bilateral relations, says Iran

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili Wednesday said economic sanctions imposed on his country is not a threat but an opportunity for countries including India. Jalili, secretary of Supreme National Security Council of Iran, also termed the International North-South Transport Corridor as one of the most "strategic projects" for India's relations with Iran.

Iran's top interlocutor is on a three-day visit to New Delhi for talks with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon. Speaking at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a Delhi-based think-tank, he said, "The sanctions are not a threat, but an opportunity."

India has been pushing for the north-south corridor as it will not only facilitate trade in the Eurasia region by opening up the vast markets but also reduced the transport cost and travel time for Indian goods.

Mooted by India, Russia and Iran in St. Petersburg in 2000, India took the lead last year to push for the project in which major work needs to be done on the "missing links" within Iran.

Jalili said India and Iran need to make use of Iranian ports so that Indian exports can be allowed to export to the Caucasian and European countries. "The corridor is one of the strategic projects in the bilateral relations," he said.

India had, in May last year, taken a major step in arranging the meeting of the countries including Iran, Russia, and countries of Central Asia to push the idea of this project and its implementation.

Jalili also said Tehran hopes to start the next round of negotiations with P5+1 soon and stressed

that every member-country of IAEA has the right to pursue peaceful nuclear programme.

He said Iran has followed a peaceful nuclear programme and that Tehran was aware of its duties. "We don't accept less rights nor more duties," he said.

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