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Wed Feb 29, 2012, 06:45 PM

Undeterred India For Moving Ahead With Iran [View all]

Notwithstanding the U.S. pressure to scale down its engagement with Iran, official sources here said the country not only remains an important source of oil for India, but is crucial to opening up routes to Central Asian and Caucasian countries, where New Delhi's quest for hydrocarbons and minerals is gathering critical mass.

“We recognise that Iran is the key to connecting with Central Asia,” said the sources while referring to a major meeting last month on a proposed Russia-Iran-India promoted North-South corridor that would originate from Bandar Abbas leading to Russia and other countries via the Caspian Sea.

India has “taken the lead” and is “pushing hard” to put the missing rail links in place so that a seamless route from Bandar Abbas port to Russia and Central Asia opens up by next year by when the customs union of Russia-Kazakhstan-Byelorussia would have expanded to include other Eurasian countries.

Customs procedures

Besides the three original signatories, over 15 countries have joined the north-south project. In addition to putting in place missing railways links of about 200 km, all the sides will have to harmonise their customs procedures to make the endeavour workable. Currently Indian goods enter Russia through the Baltic ports of St. Petersburg and Kotka, the European port of Rotterdam and the Ukrainian ports of Illychevsk and Odessa.

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http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2947231.ece

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