Meets Ahmadinejad, accepts his invite
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It was a day of hectic diplomacy for India on Friday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accepting "in principle" an invitation by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Tehran and an indication that a meeting between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will most likely be scheduled for Monday.
The bilateral meeting between Singh and Ahmadinejad held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly is a move that will certainly irk Washington, given the fact that the two leaders were later described to have also "reviewed" the political turmoil in Afghanistan, Middle East and North Africa.
The Prime Minister was meeting Ahmadinejad after the latter's famous 2008 "refuelling" stopover in New Delhi and during a post-meeting briefing Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai pointed out that several other high-level bilateral exchanges between the two countries were in the pipeline.
But surprisingly, while the two leaders, according to Mathai, discussed a number of ongoing and proposed "projects", the subject of stalled negotiations over the India-Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline reportedly did not figure in discussions and the indication given by diplomats in New York was that India was both looking at critical security aspects of the project as well as getting the best business deal for itself.
Also, it was evident that while New Delhi agreed to the invitation from Ahmadinejad, the trip was unlikely to figure on the Prime Minister's overseas bilateral agenda soon.
It was during his meeting with the recently elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda that the Prime Minister took up issues such as progress in the Tokyo-funded Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor and more importantly, the timeline for the civilian nuclear agreement.
The meeting thus served as a call for intensification of bilateral relations as well as a reminder that in 2012, it would be six decades of the establishment of bilateral ties between Delhi and Tokyo.
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