With major Assembly elections out of the way, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make a series of visits in the next few weeks, with the main stops being Iran, Qatar and the U.S., the External Affairs Ministry announced on Friday. He is expected to travel to Afghanistan before going to Qatar and the U.S. in June, sources confirmed to The Hindu .
On Sunday evening, Mr. Modi will >leave for Tehran , where he will sign the trilateral India-Afghanistan-Iran transit trade agreement along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Game changer “The trilateral agreement using Chabahar-Zahedan-Zaranj as a corridor will be a game changer for regional connectivity, especially for Afghanistan, to find an assured and reliable alternative access to India via sea. The route will also significantly enhance prospects for India’s connectivity with Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond through synergies with other initiatives such as North South Transport Corridor,” MEA Joint Secretary Gopal Bagley said on Friday.
Sources said the outstanding issue of fixing the channel for India to repay approximately $6.5 billion to Iran for previous oil dues was also resolved, and was likely to be announced after the bilateral meetings between Mr. Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Among the other agreements expected to be discussed are the one to develop the Chabahar port and the ongoing negotiations for the Farzad-B oilfields. “There is interest in the Indian public and private sector to invest in Chabahar FTZ, as also in railway projects in Iran,” Mr. Bagley said.
As part of his ongoing outreach to West Asia, which took him to the UAE last year and Saudi Arabia in April, Mr. Modi will follow up his visit to Iran on May 22-23 with a visit to Qatar on June 4 and 5 and meet the Emir of Qatar HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Energy will be one of the key subjects of talks in Doha, with Qatar accounting for 65 per cent of India’s LNG imports last year.
As The Hindu had reported earlier, Mr. Modi was expected to travel to Afghanistan for the inauguration of the $300- million Salma Dam built by India in June, possibly before visiting Qatar.
Obama farewell His last stop in June will be equally historic, as he travels to Washington for a “farewell” visit to the outgoing President, Barack Obama. Mr. Modi travelled to the U.S. in April, but hadn’t had a bilateral meeting with Mr. Obama. He will also be addressing a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress during the visit on June 7 and 8 and meet business leaders and CEOs, the MEA said.
Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama are expected to wrap up several pending agreements. Officials say the final details are still being negotiated for the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement that would help Indian and U.S. militaries access each others’ bases and key installations.
In addition, the first commercial nuclear deal between the two countries, which would seal the deal announced by the two leaders last January, could also be signed during the visit.