Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet Iranian leaders, along with those from Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, when he travels to Tehran to attend the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit next week, a government official said on Saturday.
Amid continuing pressure from the West over Iran over its nuclear programme, the world will be closely watching when Singh meets Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday ahead of the August 30-31 summit.
"During the meeting, the prime minister will review the state of bilateral ties," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said.
At the summit, Singh is expected to pitch for reinvigorating the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement in the context of the shifting world order and also use the opportunity to scale up trade ties with Iran, Mathai said.
"Our relations have been strong. As for trade, the balance is in favour of Iran and we would concentrate on increasing trade," said Mathai, who will Sunday attend a trilateral India-Afghanistan-Iran meeting in Tehran prior to the NAM summit.
Mathai said that meetings are also planned on the sidelines of the NAM summit between Manmohan Singh and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as also the leaders of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal.
"We are also hoping for a pull-aside with the president of Egypt (the currrent NAM secretary general)," Mathai added.
India shares historical and cultural links with Iran and in recent times the relationship has expanded to include cooperation in diverse fields such as hydro carbon and trade and economic matters, Mathai said, stressing ties between the two countries have improved much in the last two years.
Asked whether Washington had raised its concerns over Iran at the meeting here earlier this week between visiting US Permanent Representative to the UN Susan Rice and Indian officials, the foreign secretary said: "We did discuss issues relating to Iran but informally."
“Peace and security are our (India's) primary concerns. This is our concern and we don't have to take anyone else's concern as a priority,” he said.
“NAM remains as relevant today as when it was created (in 1961). We need to re-invigorate the movement for a greater focus on the issues of global governance, reform of international institutions, food security and energy,” Mathai added.