Lifting of international sanctions on Iran has opened up immense opportunities, and India is looking forward to expanding cooperation with the Persian Gulf nation in sectors such as trade, investment, infrastructure and energy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.
Mr. Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Iran in the last 15 years, was received at the Mehrabad International Airport by Iran’s Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Ali Tayyebnia, after which he left for a local gurudwara to meet people of Indian origin.
Keen on investment
“India and Iran have always focussed on adding strength to our relations, even during the difficult times,” Mr. Modi told Iran’s IRNA news agency ahead of his arrival here on a two-day visit.
Stating that both public and private sector firms from India were keen on investing in Iran, he said the signing of the agreement on the development of Chabahar port will provide wider connectivity.
Besides signing a deal on the development of phase-1 of the port, India is looking at doubling oil imports from the Persian Gulf nation, which a few years back was its second-biggest oil supplier, as well as making progress on getting rights to develop the Farzad–B gas field. Union Road Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari will be present for the signing of the agreement on the port.
Mr. Modi, who will hold formal talks with President Hassan Rouhani on Monday, said he had indicated possibilities of cooperation in ports, fertiliser and petrochemical sectors during their meeting at Ufa.
“Energy is one of the most important dimensions of our bilateral economic cooperation. With Farzad-B [gas field], we have gone beyond the buyer-seller relationship to being genuine partners in the field of energy,” Mr Modi said. ONGC is in talks to secure development rights for the gas field it had discovered in 2008. It has already invested about $100 million in the project.
Elaborating on the agenda for his meetings with top Iranian leadership, Mr Modi said: “Iran is part of our extended neighbourhood, an important country in the region and one of the India’s valuable partners. We are connected with each other by the shared history and civilisational ties.”
India has “shared interest” in peace and prosperity of the region, Mr Modi said, adding that combating the menace of international terrorism and radical ideologies is a common challenge.“Taking concrete steps for enhancing regional connectivity is one of the most important and promising dimensions of the growing cooperation between our two countries,” Mr Modi said. Apart from this, building a genuine energy partnership, cooperation in the infrastructure, ports, railway and petrochemicals sectors and developing age-old civilisational ties through people-to-people exchanges in the modern times will also be a priority, he elaborated.
On the possible agreements to be signed during his stay in Iran, the Prime Minister said: “Let us not prejudge the visit. But we are confident that my visit would have concrete outcomes, including in the fields of energy, infrastructure, trade, investment and culture.
On the Indian position on possibility of laying down a gas pipeline between Chabhar and Gujarat, the Prime Minister said: “Our government is excited at the possibilities that Chabahar has to offer for India, Iran and the entire region.”