New Delhi: Even as the crisis over the coal blocks allocations at home grows, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will on Tuesday take off to Iran to attend the 16th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in its capital Tehran. The Prime Minister will get a much needed breather as he heads for the 120-nation summit. The PM is scheduled to meet many world leaders there including Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.
While the summit itself has not generated expectations among Indian diplomats, the visit underscores Iran's importance to India in critical areas. Iran is seen by most as a potential energy supplier in the long term. Its significance also lies in providing the land route to the strategic Central Asia. It could also be a partner in regional security, especially when the US withdraws its troops from Afghanistan post-2014.
Iran, on the other hand, may seek greater support from India on its nuclear standoff with the West. India, however, has already made known its position.
"We believe that there is a right of each state party to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and this has to be done in a manner which accords with both their rights and their obligations which they themselves have entered into," said Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai.
More than anything else, the PM's visit is about India asserting its sovereign right to craft and implement a foreign policy that secures its core national interests, rejecting outside pressures of every kind.