PM meets Khamenei, Ahmadinejad

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday met Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during which they discussed Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme, Afghanistan, the situation in Syria and other key bilateral issues, including boosting of trade and economic ties.

Singh, who is here to attend 16th Summit of Non-Aligned Movement, met the president for nearly an hour and raised the issue of highly-tilted bilateral trade relations in favour of Iran and sought more access for Indian goods, including wheat and other items, government sources said.

The two leaders also discussed the nuclear issue and India expressed hope on the progress of P5+1 dialogue, the sources said.

“The Prime Minister hoped that recent negotiations will yield positive results in the interest of peace in the region,” they said. Both leaders reviewed the state of bilateral relations and the importance that both countries attach to strengthening the bilateral relations. They agreed that there was great potential in strengthening economic relations and economic cooperation.

“The Prime Minister raised the issue of the need for Iran to import more from India to address the trade imbalance. In this regard resumption of exports of Indian wheat to Tehran was stressed by the Prime Minister,” sources said.
They also agreed to “facilitate trilateral and bilateral cooperation on Chabahar port, which could serve as an important port of trade and transit for Afghanistan and Cetral Asia.

In a special gesture, the Iranian President also hosted a banquet after the meetings for Singh, the lone leader in the NAM summit to get this honour. A dinner for all the other participating leaders will be hosted by Iran on Thursday.

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