‘Iran can be reliable partner for India’s energy needs’

File Photo: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani who secured the deal with world powers to end the sanctions. Photo-AP/PTI

File photo of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. Photo-AP/PTI

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani today assured External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj that his country can be a “reliable partner” for India’s energy needs, as the two nations decided to significantly expand engagements in their overall ties, particularly in oil and gas sectors.

Swaraj, who arrived in Tehran on Saturday, called on President Rouhani and held talks with her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, besides meeting with Supreme Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei’s Advisor Ali Akbar Velayati and deliberated on a range of issues.

“Iran can be a reliable partner for India’s energy needs,” Rouhani told Swaraj.

India has been eying deeper energy ties with Iran following lifting of nuclear sanctions and has already lined up USD 20 billion as investment in oil and gas as well as in petrochemical and fertiliser sectors there.

India is also keen to increase oil imports from Iran from current 350,000 barrels a day.

The Iranian president spoke of Chahbahar port as a “defining partnership which has the potential of connecting the entire region”, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

Enhancing energy cooperation and development of the Chabahar port were the centerpiece of talks which was mostly dominated by economic issues.

President Hassan Rouhani, whose country shares border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, also hoped for closer consultations with India on regional issues especially concerning Afghanistan and the challenge of terrorism.

Tehran: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj being by her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif  in Tehran on Sunday, April 17, 2016.  Photo:PTI

Tehran: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj being by her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran on Sunday, April 17, 2016.

On her part, EAM Sushma Swaraj briefed him on her discussions with Zarif and said that India has always considered Iran as part of its extended neighbourhood, the spokesperson said.

She apprised him about India’s keenness in enhancing investment in various sectors including oil and gas in Iran.

“Given our natural complementarities we should move beyond a buyer seller relationship to a win-win partnership,” Swaraj told the Iranian president.

President Rouhani recalled his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ufa, Russia, and asked the minister to convey his regards to him, the spokesperson said.

The president also called for intensified engagement with India in academic, scientific and technological fields.

“India and Iran have had very rich cultural ties through history and this could pave the way for enhanced partnership in tourism and people-to-people ties,” he told Swaraj.

Earlier, during her talks with Zarif, the two sides agreed that pending agreements such as Preferential Trade Agreement, Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and Bilateral Investment Treaty should be concluded on a priority basis to spur trade and investment.

“The talks were very successful and would give new energy to our centuries old ties with Iran. In particular, the economic partnership will get considerable fillip as a result of today’s forward looking talks,” Swarup said.

Later on, Union Minister Sushma Swaraj headed for the Russian capital Moscow for the second leg of her two-nation visit, during which she will attend the annual Foreign Ministers’ meeting of Russia, India and China.