Iran President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday assured External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj that his country could be a “reliable partner” for India’s energy needs, as the two nations decided to significantly expand engagements in their overall ties, particularly in the oil and gas sectors. Mr. Swaraj, who arrived here on Saturday, called on Mr. Rouhani and held talks with her Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, besides meeting Ali Akbar Velayati, Adviser to Supreme Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei, and discussed a range of issues.
“Iran can be a reliable partner for India’s energy needs,” Mr. Rouhani told Ms. Swaraj.
India has been eyeing deeper energy ties with Iran following lifting of nuclear sanctions and has already lined up $20 billion as investment in the oil and gas and petrochemical and fertilizer sectors there.
India is keen on increasing oil imports from Iran from the current 3,50,000 barrels a day. Mr. Rouhani spoke of the Chabahar port as a “defining partnership which has the potential of connecting the entire region,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. Enhancing energy cooperation and development of the Chabahar port were the centrepiece of talks which was mostly dominated by economic issues.
Mr. Rouhani, whose country shares borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, hoped for closer consultations with India on regional issues, especially Afghanistan and the challenge of terrorism.
Ms. Swaraj briefed him on her discussions with Mr. Zarif, and said that India had always considered Iran a part of its extended neighbourhood, the spokesperson said.
She apprised him of India’s keenness on enhancing investment in various sectors, including oil and gas.