Former vice president Hamid Ansari on Thursday said that Iran is not only an important energy partner for India, but it is much beyond that.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Ansari said, "India is a major importer of oil. We get energy supplies from Iran. It is not only an important energy partner, it is much beyond that. It is located in our neighbourhood and borders -- Pakistan and Afghanistan. We need to understand such things. Iran is a country having political, cultural and strategic partnerships with India."
He underscored that the bilateral relations between the two countries dated back to thousands of years, adding that the governments of both countries have a mutual understanding with each other.
Ansari revealed that it was not the first time India buckled under pressure in abandoning its relationship with Iran.
"This is not the first time this pressure came. During the Iran-Iraq war in 1980-88, some Arab friends told that India should leave Iran. Our relations are straight. It is not determined by the interests of other countries. The Indian and Iranian governments understand each other and we share warm and cordial relations with Iran," he added.
Talking about the sanctions on Iran, Ansari implied, "Iranian policies will always have an influence in other regions. We need to take a total picture and make our judgment on what policies to pursue. I am very confident that on similar occasions in the past, the Indian government today will also take the same factors into account and make a judgment."
Ansari's remark came after Iran on Wednesday assured India that it will keep giving flexibility to it in oil supply, while adding that it hopes New Delhi too will keep in mind its friendly relations with Tehran while balancing its own geopolitical interests.
The statement from Iran embassy in New Delhi came after Massoud Rezvanian Rahaghi, Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d'Affaire of Iran, had said that if India plans to replace Iran with countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the US and others for the 10 percent of its oil demand then it may lose all privileges Iran has offered to India.
Rahaghi had made this statement at a seminar on Tuesday on the topic - Emerging Challenges and Opportunities in the Global Diplomacy and its impact on the bilateral relations with India.
However, a day later, the embassy issued a clarification with regard to Rahaghi's statement saying, "Iran has always been a reliable energy partner for India and others, seeking a balanced oil market and rational prices of oil which ensures the interests of both countries as consumer and supplier. Iran understands the difficulties of India in dealing with the unstable energy market and it has done and will do its best to ensure the security of oil supply to India through offering various flexibility measures which facilitate our bilateral trade in particular Indian export to Iran. India is a sovereign nation and taking into account many criteria including its friendly relations with supplier countries, market factors, geopolitical and geo-economical considerations and potentials and reliability of the oil suppliers chooses its energy partners."
On Wednesday, the embassy in its statement underlined the long friendly relations between the two nations enjoy based on mutual understanding, cooperation and respect.
"There is a strong and vast potential to expand these cordial ties derived from the same roots and sharing common culture and values. The two countries share the same understanding towards many global and regional challenges and cooperate harmoniously in many international fronts. Coercive literature has never had a place in the history of Iran and India relations and their dialogues," the statement continued.
It added that on India's investment in Chabahar Port and construction and expansion of the roads and railway connecting Chabahar Port to Iran's and Afghan's national railway networks, Iran has always welcomed Indian initiatives.
"However, due to the importance of the issue, Iran has frequently emphasised on expediting Indian investment, and pushing Indian partner companies to accelerate their engagement in the execution of the projects," the statement added. (ANI)