Iran's President Hassan Rouhani visits India, meets Narendra Modi

Sunday, 18 Feb, 2018

Under the agreement signed between India and Iran in May 2016, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of United States dollars 85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a 10-year lease. New Delhi is keen to develop the port to access Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

The Trilateral Transit Agreement (Chabahar agreement) was also signed by transport ministers of India, Iran and Afghanistan in the presence of Modi, Rouhani and Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. Iran's toppled monarch, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, visited India in 1956.

The trade bodies of the two nations also signed four more Memorandums of Understanding during Iranian President's visit to New Delhi.

India and Iran signed agreements Saturday for avoidance of double taxation and implementing an extradition treaty signed in 2008.

Among the nine agreements signed on Saturday was a lease between Iran's Port and Maritime Organization and India Ports Global Limited.

Earlier this day Iran President Hassan Rouhani met EAM Sushma Swaraj and hold bilateral talks on mutual interest of both nations.

"You witnessed development and progress, and today we witness the fruit of it", he said. He said Iran wants peace across the world and friendly relations with not only Islamic countries but other countries as well.

Meanwhile, he lauded the cultural confluence and religious harmony in India, and said, "Whatever faith different communities in India have, they co-exist peacefully, and Iran appreciates that". Last month, he waived sanctions against Iran as required under JCPOA, but warned that it will be the last such waiver if radical changes are not made in the pact.

"We will support the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan rail link so that Chabahar gateway's potential could be fully utilized", Modi said, as quoted by Reuters. They also agreed to hold a Festival of India in Iran and establish a Chair of Indian Studies in the Tehran University. He also said that both sides "are prepared for joint ventures in gas and petroleum sectors" and sought Indian investments in the industrial and mining sectors.

China is now developing Gwadar port, in Pakistan, which also gives China a way into Africa.

Foreign ministry official Mittal added that both sides had spoken of making the energy partnership a more "comprehensive" one.

New Delhi is keen that the gas from the field comes to India to feed the vast energy needs and, therefore, OVL in its Dollars 11 billion master development plan (MDP) proposed drilling wells in Persian Gulf to produce gas, transport it to onshore via sub-sea pipeline and build a plant to liquefy the gas (LNG) for transportation in ships.

Modi welcomed Rouhani as "an Iranian president visiting after 10 years". According to New Delhi, Iran has shifted the goalposts several times since the start of negotiations on the deal in 2007. In 2016-17, India had imported 510,000 barrels per day (25.5 million tonnes) of oil from Iran.

Rouhani referred to Trump's threat on the nuclear deal, and said that "politics without adhering to one's commitment and promises can not resolve the conflicts and problems of the current world".

Rouhani said, "The kindness accorded to us by the great government of India, I once again thank the people and the government of India for this". But now Iran and Russian Federation seemingly have differences with India with the former perceiving the Islamic State as the bigger threat in Afghanistan than the Taliban.