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 Friday, 24 January, 2003, 12:44 GMT
Iran and India seek security boost
Iranian President Khatami
Khatami will be a guest at India's Republic Day
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami is seeking to improve regional security as he begins a four day visit to India.

Mr Khatami arrived in Delhi with a delegation that includes Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, and the oil and defence ministers, Bijan Zanganeh and Ali Shamkhani.

The two countries could play a complementary role in maintaining security, Mr Khatami said before leaving Tehran.

"I hope we will reach good results in economic, political and security sectors in the course of this visit."

Iraq war threat

One of the issues that is bound to be discussed by the two leaders is the situation in Iraq. Both countries insist that Iraq should comply with United Nations resolutions.

Pipeline
India wants Iran to supply oil avoiding Pakistan

But they have also expressed concern about possible unilateral US action against Iraq.

Iran has opposed US plans of a regime change in Baghdad, even thought Iran and Iraq fought a prolonged war in the 1980s,

Recently, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi appealed to Iraq's neighbours to work together to "prevent the start of a war".

Similarly, India has also opposed the possibility of unilateral US action against Iraq, arguing that there should be no military action without the UN approval.

Pipeline

Another prominent issue on the agenda will be Iran's proposal for an oil pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan.

The pipeline was proposed by Iran in 1994. It would boost Iran's oil exports. It would also help India meet its rising energy demand and reduce its huge oil import bill.

Pakistan would also gain an estimated annual of $500-600m in transit royalties.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has offered a written guarantee to Iran that Pakistan would protect the pipeline under all circumstances.

Iran-India oil pipeline

But India, given the history of bitter relations with Pakistan, is not prepared to trust such assurances.

India has proposed a more expensive offshore pipeline. But Iran says that is unviable.

During the visit both countries are expected to sign an agreement for increased economic cooperation. President Khatami will also address a meeting of leading Indian businessman.

He will also be the chief guest at the ceremonial Republic day parade on the 26th January, when the country will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of becoming a sovereign republic.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Satish Jacob in Delhi
"The primary aim of the visit to be to discuss regional politics"
See also:

23 May 00 | South Asia
12 Mar 01 | South Asia
13 Nov 00 | South Asia
20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
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