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Crude export to be stepped up

New Delhi, Jan. 27: Iran today sought Indian co-operation and investment in the areas of energy, information technology, education and tourism. It also said that it was prepared to increase the volume of crude oil exports to India.

Iranian president Seyed Mohammad Khatami said, “India is one of the best customers of Iranian crude and we are fully prepared to raise the volume of crude oil exports to India.”

The statement is considered significant as India is trying to rapidly build up war reserves for a possible disruption of petro-products supplies in case of a US-Iraq conflict.

Inviting investments from India, he said, “We welcome all sorts of investments by Indian petroleum companies in our gas and oil sectors as well as other segments of the industry.”

Khatami also stressed that in case an overland pipeline connecting Iranian fields with India could be set up, he would provide full co-operation. Problems with India’s western neighbour Pakistan has rendered this project a dead horse till now.

Addressing a luncheon session for Indian and Iranian business tycoons jointly organised by Ficci and CII, he said, “A relatively long time has passed since its preliminary planning; the project is still in the phase of its feasibility studies.”

He said the two countries can also explore all other possibilities for the supply of Indian energy by Iran to India.

Seeking co-operation from the Indian counterparts in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, Khatami said, “We have presented proposals to set up road infrastructure connecting Chahbahar and Delaram in Afghanistan and Fahraj and Zaranj in Iran.”

Khatami said, “The enactment of new foreign investment law has also facilitated the acceptance of foreign investment and has made it more transparent for the expansion of economic relations of Iran with other countries”.

The current volume of trade between India and Iran (excluding petroleum) has risen from $ 120 million in the year 1991 to more than $ 500 million in 2002. Khatami said, “The existence of inexpensive sources of energy and the existing suitable conditions for mutual investment in Iran, especially in the free and special economic areas have created unique opportunities for the Indian investors.”

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