Man with a Midas touch

Syed Zafar Mehdi

At a time when young entrepreneurs are wary of diversifying their business into various segments owing to the high risks involved, Mr. Anil Jindal is showing the way. For this visionary, who leapfrogged into business sector exactly 27 years ago, diversification means strong focus on understanding the consumers’ needs and fulfilling them under one roof.

His entrepreneurship and commitment as the Founder-CEO of SRS Limited has grown the company to Rs 2200 crore conglomerate. Under his leadership, the company has evolved into a diversified entity with a business portfolio comprising of Gold & Jewelery, Cinema Exhibition, Retail, Hotels and Food & Beverages.

A go-getter and true believer in perseverance, he confesses to have evolved professionally over the years but the core values of fulfilling the commitments and creating value for the stakeholders remain intact.

Q1. You announced your foray into business sector in the year 1985. Twenty seven years down the line, how has success changed you as a person?

I sure have evolved professionally over the years but can say with confidence that the core values of fulfilling my commitments and creating value for our stakeholders are still intact. I have always been a go-getter, a true believer in perseverance as it is what makes a true winner and that I still am.

More than changing, it has affirmed some of my core values. I have realised that respect for the individual and society, plus an unwavering faith in honest work always pays. You have to be focused with a positive spirit that rubs-off on everyone around you. Another thing that has got re-inforced is the fact that after a point, growth in business comes from the efforts of the team, and hence nurturing an empowered team with the right values is absolutely critical. Probably the one thing that has changed is that now, my focus is more on others than on myself – our people, our investors, our consumers and our society. It’s my strongest desire to add value and bring goodness to the lives of everyone associated with brand SRS.

Q2. Diversification often carries the risk of losing the edge you might have been able to gain from skill. Does it also anyway affect clarity and focus?

Our focus has always been on fulfilling the needs of a common man. Right from entertainment to eating out, fashion wear to designer jewellery, buying household items to owning a home itself, SRS offers it all. We have consciously diversified into such verticals to make sure that when a customer is associated with us, he gets whatever he requires from one brand, SRS.

At SRS, we have strong synergies amongst our brands and we draw strength from all of them. We have diversified into businesses that are inter-linked to a great extent, and each feeds into another by way of consumer footfalls, management skills, brand salience, resourcing, operating procedures and the like. This enables the group to grow, while still staying nimble. SRS attaches lot of importance to cross-promotional synergies, which basically means that the company is able to convert the consumer of one vertical into buying the services of the other verticals. So it works great for us, wherein we have a number of brands that complement one another.

So what you see as diversification can actually be viewed as a very strong focus on understanding the consumers’ needs and fulfilling them under one roof. In that sense, it is a very focused, synergistic diversification.

Q3. The nature of business leadership is both a complex and compelling phenomenon. Has the role of a business leader evolved over time?

Yes, it surely has. Once upon a time, leader’s role was to do things from the frontline with his team of people and micro-manage it. The leader used to be one key personality who gave flavour and direction to the various projects and businesses, and his character had a very strong focus on the entire business.

Now, that has changed a bit, adding a new series of responsibilities in addition to being the ultimate custodian of the business and brand. A leader’s most important task is to create future leaders – replicas of him/her in the system who will add momentum to the company’s growth. Secondly, they need to guard, nourish and strengthen the DNA of the organisation’s value system which is believed, respected and followed throughout the company. Thirdly, they need to help lift people from the level of employees to intra-preneurs and instill the same spirit as that of a leader. So, essentially, it is more about creation of strong team, a culture of openness and pro-activity, and putting in place a decentralised model to multiply growth avenues and increase response time.

To my mind, a leader is like the trunk of the tree, which holds the tree firmly to the ground while ensuring it grows taller with strong branches, healthy leaves, sweet fruits and goodness for everyone who comes to it.

Q4. According to a Harvard Business School study, when it comes to overall management, American firms outperform all others. In contrast, developing countries like Brazil, China, and India lag at the bottom of the management charts. What reasons do you attribute to it, and what role can HR managers play to help in bridging the gap?

I think a fair amount of this can be attributed to the Licence Raj and policy issues. Once red-tape is cut down, polices made clear and simple, regulations made transparent, reforms more active and approvals quicker, one will be as good and fast as the fellow corporate in the US or Europe. What then will be required is quality professional education and training. I also feel if that if the country’s leaders can run politics and businesses separately, things will be much better.

HR can play a very strong role here by helping to maximise employee growth and engineer their quicker professional development. The principles of human resource development remain unchanged – what is required is their consistent application in relation to today’s dynamic and new business, political and social environment.

Q5. According to Global Retail Development Index 2012, India ranks fifth among the top 30 emerging markets for retail. How do you see the industry shaping up?

With the lives of consumers getting more complicated and the unabated growth of nuclear families, there is a serious pressure on the availability of time in one’s life. It has given a boost to organised retailing in India because of the convenience of shopping. Further, the continuous improvement in average education, rise in the number of working women and the ever growing spending capacity of the service class have also contributed towards the growth of organised retail.

While there has been tremendous growth in the sector over the last few years, organised retail in India still has a long way to go. Organised retail holds just about 6-10% market share in India as compared to 75% in Europe and 90% in America. We expect that after 2-3 years, the industry will see unprecedented growth for next 12-15 years.  The current times may well possibly be the turning point for the retail industry as the government is considering reforms in retail and several international players are looking at India cautiously. The industry is at a nascent stage, and once the logistics and back-end platform takes shape in line with the requirements of organised retail, there will be no stopping. Considering the current market share of organised retailing and the likely development in the near term, we can confidently say that there exists a huge untapped potential, which SRS, as a serious player in the industry, aims to capitalise upon.

Q6. India is emerging as a huge consumer market for jewellery and government’s decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) of up to 51 per cent in single brand retail stores is likely to spur it further. How do you see these developments? Will it increase the competition on domestic front and what role can HR play to help companies in this ‘struggle for survival’?

Competition is good for the market and above all, it allows the consumers the freedom to choose. Any brand worth its salt will be able to offer value to the customers and will not only survive but do well even in a competitive market. One of the first things that FDI is likely to do is to trigger the development of the logistics and back-end backbone. This will take the industry to an altogether new level, and coupled with infusion of new technology, it will be beneficial for everyone – consumers, retail companies and government alike.

So the role of HR will not really be to help companies to struggle for survival – instead it will be to help bring in and develop fine professionals for the trade. By creating a good work environment, focussed training and skill development across diverse functions such as logistics, sourcing, customer service, vendor management and related fields, HR can bring such companies to top form. A good HR strategy that empowers the employees will make them serve the customers even better, thus enabling the brand to leave an indelible impression on its consumers.

Q7. You have a presence in diverse businesses. How difficult is it to cope with the competition and manage such diverse businesses?

Today, SRS Limited has evolved into a diversified Company with a business portfolio comprising of Gold & Jewelery, Cinema Exhibition, Retail, Hotels and Food & Beverages. The five business verticals of the Company enable it to profitably exploit the business synergies, as well as, smoothen out seasonal business fluctuations. Additionally, these businesses help us build a strong set of brands, ensure high visibility and leverage cross-selling our various value offerings. Not the least, it is also instrumental in creating a strong knowledge pool and a multi-faceted professional team. As mentioned earlier, at SRS, we have strong synergies amongst our brands and we draw strength from all of them. We have diversified into businesses that are inter-linked to a great extent, and each feeds into another by way of consumer footfalls, management skills, brand salience, resourcing, operating procedures and the like. This enables the group to grow, while still staying nimble.

Q8. As a leader and manager, what qualities do you look for in an employee? What is the hiring procedure you follow?

For us, three qualities are most important in a potential employee. Integrity, knowledge of his/her domain coupled with strong willingness to learn and finally, being able to perform in a team environment. Anyone with these attributes has great chance to join the Team SRS.

Q9. As they say, winners are not the ones who avoid complexity; winners are those who master it. What is your idea of success?

My idea of success is to work tirelessly towards the attainment of your set goals and then when you achieve them, revise them to make them even more challenging and start all over again. I sincerely believe that the successful fulfillment of the needs of our customers and their satisfaction are the true barometers of our success. If the customers are happy with our efforts and we are able to create value for our stakeholders in the process, then that is true success for me.

It is my belief that victory is journey, and every win is a milestone in this eternal journey.

Q10. There is something common between Apple, Starbucks, Nike, FedEx, Virgin Atlantic, Berkshire Hathaway and Southwest Airlines. They are all run by the founders. Do you believe founders bring a leadership that most hired CEOs can’t?

It will be wrong to say that hired CEOs do not bring in growth. However I would say that one aspect that founders have is the same kind of attachment with the company as one has with his child. This attachment can definitely prove vital towards pushing the founders to strive for goals that a CEO lacking this attachment might perceive unachievable. Maybe, that’s where the difference lies. 

Q11. It’s often said that the most successful businesses are the ones where people know how to break the rules. What’s your take on this?

Well, if you are breaking rules to improve upon deliveries and services or fulfilling promises and commitment, then I don’t see any harm in it. It is critical to remember that the story is not really in breaking rules, but in actually being innovative, bold, responsive, responsible, passionate and growth focused – so much so that the current set of guiding principles too need to evolve. To the casual eye, this could be about breaking rules, but actually, it is much more than that.

Q12. Do you think the changing dynamics at workplace has considerably changed the employer-employee relationship also? How important is it from business point of view?

Yes, of course. The ever-evolving scenario at the work place has made the relationship much informal over the years. Today, a prudent employer looks upon his workforce as partners rather than just the employees. This approach helps the organisation grow as a family and helps one reap the benefits of joint efforts as the employees become all the more committed towards the company’s cause.

Q13. Many big companies are struggling with innovation. How difficult is it for companies to innovate and maintain a sense of control over the organization.

Innovation is the life blood of an organisation. One who doesn’t innovate will perish with time as there always will be someone who comes across with a product or service with better features or price and the customers will naturally favour them. It indeed is difficult for companies to manage innovations and also exercise control over the organisation and the only way I see it happening successfully is by having a real good team in place. If you have a good team backing your plans with full conviction, you have half the battle won. Your innovations will have the chances of finding favour with the end consumers as well.

(First published in The Sunday Indian and The Human Factor)


“The blame for resurrecting insurgency in Afghanistan ultimately rests with the U.S.”

Syed Zafar Mehdi

An acclaimed journalist and author, Anand Gopal has extensively reported from Afghanistan for The Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor. He has also reported on the Middle East and South Asia for Harper’s, The Nation, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, and other publications.

As a Bernard L. Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation, he authored the just-published No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes(Metropolitan Books), which has generated an intense debate about the purpose of America’s intervention in Afghanistan.

Through the dramatic stories of three Afghans caught in America’s war on terror, Gopal shows that the Afghan war, often seen as a hopeless quagmire and an intractable conflict, could in fact have gone very differently.

Q. In your just-published book, you argue that the U.S. forces pressed the conflict in Afghanistan and resurrected the insurgency. Do you think the blame goes squarely on the U.S.?
 I believe the blame for resurrecting the insurgency ultimately rests with the U.S., but blame for sustaining and continuing the insurgency is shared equally by the U.S. and Pakistan. Of course, the Afghan government is also to blame, but we cannot look at their actions independently of outside forces, since they are playing by the rules that outsiders set.

If we take a longer view, stretching back thirty years, I believe the U.S. and the Soviet Union are ultimately responsible for the conflict. On the one hand, the Soviet Union killed over a million and destroyed the country; on the other, the U.S. spread extremism and warlordism through their patronage of rebel groups. Furthermore, the U.S. and Saudi patronage in the 1980s transformed the Pakistani state, helping make the ISI what it is today.

If we take a longer view, stretching back thirty years, I believe the U.S. and the Soviet Union are ultimately responsible for the conflict

Q. The top Taliban leadership, you claim, tried to surrender soon after the U.S. invasion. Why was the U.S. not willing to accept them?
 The mood at the time was that, like Bush said, “You are either with us or against us.” America’s goal was to wage a war on terror, and the fact that its enemies were trying to switch sides was something that did not mesh easily with the ideology of counterterrorism.

Q. Your book tells the story of Afghan war through the lives of three Afghans: a Taliban commander, a tribal warlord and a village housewife. Is it just a co-incidence that they are all Pashtun?
 No, it is not a coincidence—it is because the war is largely being fought in Pashtun areas. Moreover, all three are Pashtuns who lived at least part of the time in rural areas. There are many excellent works of reporting on Afghans living in cities, and in other parts of the country. However, there is very little about the lives of Pashtuns in rural areas, and I felt that it would be impossible to understand this war without exploring their experiences.

Certainly, there are many other facets of Afghanistan, and many other books waiting to be written about them, but I felt that this slice of life was necessary if we were to have a better picture of the conflict.

Q. According to a recent Gallup poll, many Americans believe it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan. Do you also hold that view?
 I think there is no simple answer to this question. If we attempt to answer it in the most straightforward way possible—are Afghans’ lives better?—then we should ask: which Afghans? Life in cities is far better today than it was before 2001. Life in the north, particularly in Bamyan, has considerably improved over the brutality of the Taliban era. Life in Sangin or Baraki Barak, though, is considerably worse than it was in 2001. Whose experiences qualify as genuine? I would say both, and in a way, that is a tragedy.

Even the gains, though, are precarious. The Afghan state, such as it is, relies on rural strongmen and militias alongside the army and police, and the Afghan economy cannot function without a massive and unending influx of Western aid. There is no realistic plan for sustainability or genuine state building—and though President Ghani’s ideas on this front seem promising, I am skeptical that he can do much when the source of these phenomena, Washington, is showing few signs of changing.

I do not believe the Taliban are interested in peace at this moment, irrespective of who is sitting in Arg (presidential palace)

So the question is: where will Afghanistan be five, ten, fifteen years from now? The best-case scenario, if we are being realistic, is that it will be right where it is today—with the Taliban not strong enough to take the country, and yet not weak enough to be defeated. And the worst case scenario—the international community cuts its funding—would likely lead to another state collapse and civil war.
If this turns out to be the American legacy in Afghanistan, then there will be no debate whether the entire intervention was a mistake.

Q. You have not sufficiently highlighted the role of Pakistan in the resurgence of Taliban. Do you believe the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had no major role to play in it?
A. The ISI played a major role in the resurgence of the Taliban by providing safe haven for Taliban leaders, influencing commanders, eliminating those they do not like, and generally by trying to control things behind the scenes. They are a major force of destruction in Afghanistan. However, this is well known, and as such my book focused on the U.S. role, which was much less-well known.

There is an idea floating around in some circles that Pakistan willed the Taliban back to life in 2002-4, but this simply does not appear to be the case. Rather, real grievances inside Afghanistan were the impetus for the Taliban’s regroupment, and Pakistan saw this process unfold and manipulated it for its own purposes.

Q. Your depiction of Taliban as oppressed Pashtuns fighting against a corrupt government and foreign ‘invaders’, many believe, is not fair. How would you respond to that?
 I think it is important to distinguish between the reasons that led many to join the Taliban initially, and what the Taliban represents as a movement. It is true, and a matter of record, that many joined as a response to the torture, killings, air strikes, night raids, and other crimes committed by the foreign forces and their proxies. You can travel through Deh Rawud district in Uruzgan, for example, and see many pro-government villages. But in neighboring Char Chino, the majority of territory is held by insurgents.

Why such differences? The reasons have to do with local politics and local histories, and particularly, the differing nature of grievances and government connections in those two areas. This is not unique to Afghanistan; many insurgencies around the world stem from real grievances.

To recognize that a group had, at one point, legitimate grievances is not the same as saying the group acts legitimately to address those grievances. Armed groups often take a life of their own, and their ultimate purpose is usually to ensure their own survival and potential for obtaining power.

I describe in the book how the Taliban quickly came to mirror the actions of the very warlords they were fighting. They are a force of oppression, just as many of the other armed actors in the conflict.

Q. With the new government in Kabul now, do you see peace process making headway in near future?
 Unfortunately, I do not believe the Taliban are interested in peace at this moment, irrespective of who is sitting in Arg (presidential palace). Some of their influential leaders believe that they can defeat the Afghan government.

I think this is unrealistic, as the Afghan government has greater firepower and manpower (thanks to its foreign patrons). But some top Taliban figures appear to be clinging to this notion, and the withdrawal of foreign troops has only emboldened them.


A farce called Non Proliferation Treaty

iran and EU.jpg

Syed Zafar Mehdi

The Second Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2015 Review Conference (RevCon) of the members of Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is holding a two-week meeting in Geneva these days. The Treaty became an international law in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995. Hitherto, a total of 190 countries have ratified the Treaty. Under the Treaty, the five countries formally recognized as nuclear weapon states (NWS) include China, France, Britain, United States and Russia. The only four countries not party to the Treaty are India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea – all of them big nuclear powers.

The member states of NPT have been holding regular meeting to discuss their responsibilities and chalk out the strategies to promote the culture of non-proliferation and disarmament under the NPT. The Treaty is reviewed every five years in meetings called Review Conference. There is also a two-week Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) conference that meets once a year ahead of the Review Conference. In preparation for the Review Conference in 2015, there are three PrepComs: 2012 (Vienna), 2013 (Geneva), and 2014 (New York). This year, the meeting is taking place in Geneva and is attended by the representatives of all the member states of NPT. During the PrepComs, working papers are tabled and a final summary statement is drafted though the documents are not binding. They are to be used as assessment tools for five-yearly Review Conference, where a final consensus document is produced.

The Treaty was conceived with an objective to prevent nuclear proliferation, work towards full disarmament and promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology. The non-nuclear members states of NPT had agreed not to acquire nuclear weapons and the nuclear member states had pledged to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology and take determined steps towards total nuclear disarmament. So, the big question is: has the NPT been a success or failure, and have the objectives and goals been met or not.

Under Article 1 of the Treaty, the five nuclear weapon states are not supposed to transfer the nuclear weapons to non-nuclear weapon state. But, France helped Israel in building nuclear arsenal, China helped Pakistan become a nuclear power, US displayed its magnanimity towards India. Interestingly, all these beneficiaries are not the members of NPT. India refused to sign the treaty as it found it ‘faulty’ and a ‘club of nuclear haves and have-nots’. During a visit to Tokyo in 2007, India then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “If India did not sign the NPT, it is not because of its lack of commitment for non-proliferation, but we consider NPT a flawed treaty.” Pakistan maintains that it will not sign as long as India does not. Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abdul Basit, told a news agency few years back that Pakistan is willing to abandon its position on Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in case India joins it. He put the blame squarely on western powers for destabilising the security situation in the region and increasing the dependence of Pakistan on nuclear weapons. Israel, like its important ally India, finds the Treaty ‘flawed and hypocritical’. “This resolution is deeply flawed and hypocritical. It ignores the realities of the Middle East and the real threats facing the region and the entire world,” said an Israeli government spokesman in response to a 28-page declaration by NPT in 2010 asking Israel to fall in line.

Quite interestingly, ‘rogue states’ like Iran and North Korea, in their terminology, are different from the ‘pariah states’ like Myanmar and Zimbabwe

Article XI of the Treaty is interesting, and calls for disarmament by the nuclear weapon states. “Each of the parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue the negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament,” reads the article. The language is vague and prone to misinterpretation. It does not make it mandatory for nuclear member states to disarm, but to do so in ‘good faith’, and without any time frame. The powerful nuclear member states of NPT have used this vagueness to their advantage and refused to comply with it. Instead of moving towards total disarmament, they have willfully and vigorously carried on with their nuclear proliferation at a staggering level. According to NPT, these nuclear states cannot use their nuclear weapons against the non-nuclear state, but despite that, they have constantly threatened to use nuclear weapons against what they call ‘rogue states’. United States continuously targeted North Korea between 1959 and 1991, forcing it to quit NPT and develop nuclear weapons. Now, North Korea, like Iran, has become a ‘rogue state’ that needs to be annihilated.

Quite interestingly, ‘rogue states’ like Iran and North Korea, in their terminology, are different from the ‘pariah states’ like Myanmar and Zimbabwe. William Blum, author of ‘Rogue States: The Guide to the World’s Only Superpower’ has a fitting answer to that. “United States, because of its foreign policy, is itself the biggest rogue state.” There is a sea of difference between the rhetoric and reality when it comes to the policies of these nuclear weapon states like US. Their obligation and commitment under Article VI of NPT to work towards total disarmament has turned out to be hogwash. The five nuclear members of NPT together have more than 22,000 warheads. The commitments made at previous Review Conference in 2010 have not been fulfilled. The progress on the NPT Action Plan has been slow and uninspiring.

Despite no credible evidence confirming the presence of nuclear weapons in Iran, the economic sanctions against the country continue

Among the four states not party to NPT, the case of India and Pakistan is curious. India first test fired in 1974 and Pakistan followed it up in 1998. India is believed to possess material for more than 150 warheads, while Pakistan has between 80 and 120 warheads. The two countries have gone to war on two occasions, and the tensions continue to spiral. The logjam over Kashmir, the bone of contention, occasionally takes ugly turns to the extent that both the countries threaten each other of nuclear attack. According to NPT, any nuclear deal between NPT member states and these four countries is illegal. Yet, United States went ahead with Indo-US nuclear deal in 2006, and China signed a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan in 2010, both in direct violation of the Treaty as it prohibits export of nuclear reactors to countries that have not signed the pact (in this case India and Pakistan).

Israel always acts like a stubborn child. It refuses to confirm or deny the possession of nuclear weapons, but the cat was out of the bag as early as 1986 when an Israeli technician Mordechai Vanunu published details of Israel’s nuclear programme in Sunday Times UK. He was soon arrested and charged for treason. On September 18, 2009, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Israel to open its nuclear facilities for IAEA inspection and adhere with the resolution regarding non-proliferation, but it out-rightly refused to comply.

Iran, on the other hand, is in the centre of storm. Thomas Countryman, assistant secretary of State for international security and nonproliferation, at the ongoing NPT Preperatory Committee meeting in Geneva said, “Possession of nuclear weapons by Iran constitutes a threat to the entire region and an impetus for greater proliferation, lateral proliferation of weapons”. Iran’s Foreign Ministry shot back saying that the country is “loyal” to its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligations. As a signatory of NPT, Iran claims its right under Article IV of the Treaty to pursue peaceful nuclear energy programme.

Despite no credible evidence confirming the presence of nuclear weapons in Iran, the economic sanctions against the country continue. Dr. Hans Blix, former Director General of IAEA also believes there is no clear evidence to nail Iran. “Iran has not violated NPT and there is no evidence right now that suggests Iran is producing nuclear weapons,” he said recently during an event in Dubai. Unlike Israel, Iran has always welcomed IAEA inspectors to inspect its nuclear sites. The negotiations between Iran and West are stalled not because of Iran, but because of West’s obstructionism and sanction policy. Iran had proposed to stop the uranium enrichment at 20 per cent if it got 20 per cent enriched fuel in exchange from west. The offer was turned down, and was followed by sanctions.

For Iran, not producing nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction is a religious obligation, a fact attested by Ayatullah Khamenie’s fatwa (degree) against nuclear weapons

For Iran, not producing nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction is a religious obligation, a fact attested by Ayatullah Khamenie’s fatwa (degree) against nuclear weapons. Iran realizes that a nuclear armed Iran will lead to a nuclear race in the region and that can have worrying repercussions. It also knows that it is likely to lose trusted friends like Russia and China and face isolation if it produces nuclear weapons.

Two high profile rounds of talks in Kazakhstan have already taken place this year without any noticeable gains. Addressing representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on the sidelines of the NPT Preparatory Committee meeting in Geneva, Iran’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Baqeri said Tehran is ready to engage with Group 5+1 to work out a lasting settlement  to all vexed issues. Referring to the recent meeting between Iran and the Group 5 1 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, he said the group has not fulfilled its promise yet. The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who represents the Group5+1 in talks with Iran, was supposed to inform Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili about the outcome of her consultations with the six countries, but she has not done that even after many weeks have passed.

Meanwhile, speaking at the NPT meeting in Geneva, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, hinted at the possibility of Iran being west’s reliable partner in Middle East. “Western countries are advised to change gear from confrontation to cooperation, the window of opportunity to enter into negotiation for long-term strategic cooperation with Iran, the most reliable, strong and stable partner in the region is still open.” The ball, now, is in West’s court.

(First published on Press TV website)