Source: Tehran Times
Iran and India have signed four memorandums of understanding to expand their relations in various areas.
India's FM Salman Khurshid with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The signing of the MOUs came as Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid co-chaired the 17th meeting of the Iran-India Joint Economic Commission in Tehran on Saturday.
Prior to the economic commission meeting, Salehi called for closer ties with India in all areas including trade, agriculture, and education.
He went on to say that relations between the two countries are so strong that no barrier can hinder them from flourishing.
The Indian foreign minister also said, "We consider our ties with Tehran very special."
Given the historical and cultural affinities between the two countries the Indian people have a sense of close friendship with the Iranians, the top Indian diplomat noted.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khurshid called for an end to violence in Syria, saying the Syrian people should be allowed to determine their own destiny.
To resolve the two-year old conflict in Syria, the efforts by Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, must be backed by the international community, he further said.
The Indian official also held separate meetings with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani on the same day.
The Indian Cultural Center in Iran was inaugurated during a ceremony held at the Indian Embassy in Tehran on Friday.
Indian Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid attended the event, which opened with a musical performance. The Indian national anthem was also played at the start of the function, and a lamp lighting ceremony was held.
Former Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, former parliament speaker and current MP Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, Indian Ambassador to Iran Shri D.P. Srivastava, Iranian Ambassador to India Gholam Reza Ansari, a number of distinguished members of the Indian community in Iran, and a number of Iranian scholars, including prominent Indologists Dr. Fathollah Mojtabaei and Dr. Darioush Shaygan, also attended the inauguration ceremony.
Iran has two cultural centers in India.
'Iran, India have contributed to promotion of Asian culture'
Mr. Mottaki delivered a speech during the ceremony, in which he welcomed the Indian foreign minister to his "second home" and noted that relations between the two countries had always been based on mutual understanding.
He described culture as the "heart" of every society, which opens a door to the understanding of a nation.
Mr. Mottaki offered his congratulations on the opening of the Indian cultural center, saying that the rich cultures of Iran and India had played very important roles in promoting Asian culture throughout the world.
The Indian Cultural Center in Iran will provide a good opportunity for further exchange of views between the two countries, he said.
'Indian cultural center would open a new chapter in cultural ties'
Mr. Haddad-Adel also made a speech and hailed good political, economic, and cultural cooperation between Iran and India.
He noted that the Indian cultural center would open a new chapter in bilateral cultural cooperation.
'Iran has contributed greatly to the growth of Indian culture'
After Mr. Haddad-Adel, the Indian foreign minister took the podium and hailed Iran's contributions to India in the cultural area.
"We have taken too long to establish the cultural center. Perhaps, there is already so much in terms of work going on, in terms of our cultural interaction and interface that this comes at the end of a remarkable journey, rather than for the purpose of beginning a journey," Mr. Khurshid stated.
He added that the establishment of the Indian cultural center was a response to "great contributions Iran has made to the growth of the Indian culture," noting that the center would provide the ordinary people in Iran with an opportunity "to judge whether we have, in our own way, contributed to, developed...(and) enriched" the Iranian culture.
Mr. Khurshid said that cultural cooperation between the two countries should continue in the modern era, noting, "I have come back to Iran after almost two decades or a decade and a half, and I see what a vibrant, modern Iran is emerging. Similarly, I hope that when you come to India, you see a vibrant, new India emerging.
"Our classical civilizations recognize an interface and interaction with each other, but, equally, our modern civilizations have to be connected and engaged and involved, and I think that's the reason why it's important for us to be working together through the outreach of our diplomatic efforts in both countries through culture.
"And I sincerely hope that this cultural center will soon become so crowded that we will be seeking from you and our Iranian colleagues a much larger place in which we would be able to reach out to a much larger group."
Elsewhere in his remarks, Mr. Khurshid thanked Iran for "solidly" standing by India on the international stage, saying that such support was not only due to the very deep and lasting friendship between the two countries "but also because I feel and I hope I'm not wrong in saying that there is a language that we share, and that's the language of emotion, sentiment, and the language of the heart."
He added, "Inside the soul of India and the soul of Iran, there's commonality which goes back a millennium, which goes back a long time, and therefore, for us in our generation, it is a tremendous responsibility to continue the journey forward to a destination that once our great leaders had imagined many generations ago, and that destination is still to come."
The final destination is a place where all the people in the world would live in dignity and justice and would feel proud of their cultures.
At the end of the ceremony, the Indian ambassador to Iran thanked the Iranian Foreign Ministry and other institutions which had paved the way for the establishment of the Indian Cultural Center in Iran.
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