Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is in Iran on a two-day visit, held formal talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday morning. Both sides signed 12 agreements with Iran, including a contract to develop the first phase of the strategic Chabahar port.
Under the pact, India will provide 500 million dollars to develop the port. The deal helps New Delhi gain a foothold in the Islamic country and win access to central Asia and Afghanistan.
“Chabahar can become very big symbol of coop’n between Iran and India,” said President Rouhani in the press briefing after the meet.
“The bilateral agreement to develop the Chabahar port and related infrastructure, and availability of about USD 500 million from India for this purpose, is an important milestone,” said PM Modi in his statement.
“This major effort would boost economic growth in the region. We are committed to take steps for early implementation of the agreements signed today,” he added.
Chabahar is a port in South-East Iran that will enable India to bypass Pakistan and open up a route to land-locked Afghanistan with which New Delhi has close security ties and economic interests.
From Chabahar, the existing Iranian road network can link up to Zaranj in Afghanistan, about 883 kms from the port. The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway, setting up road access to four major cities in Afghanistan — Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.
India and Iran had in 2003 agreed to develop Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman outside the Strait of Hormuz, near Iran’s border with Pakistan.
Talking about a trilateral Transport and Transit Agreement with participation of Iran, Modi said, “It will open new routes for India, Iran and Afghanistan to connect among themselves. India and Iran also share a crucial stake in peace, stability and prosperity of the region.”
The two sides also signed agreements in diverse fields like trade credit, culture, science and technology and railways. They also discussed the menace of terrorism in the region.
“India and Iran share a crucial stake in peace, stability and prosperity of the region. We also have shared concerns over the spread of forces of instability, radicalism and terror in our region,” said the PM.
Earlier in the day, PM Modi tweeted, “Enhancing connectivity, trade, investments, energy partnership, culture and people to people contacts would be our priority.”
Post-sanctions Iran has seen a flurry of diplomatic and business activity with leaders from China and Russia courting Tehran.
PM Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to travel to Iran in 15 years on a bilateral visit after Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The Indian Prime Minister landed in Tehran on Sunday evening, and was received at the Mehrabad International Airport by Iran’s Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Ali Tayyebnia.
“Reached Iran, a land with whom India shares civilisational ties. Hope to enhance economic partnership between our nations. I also hope my Iran visit further cements cultural and people-to-people ties between India and Iran,” tweeted Modi after he landed in Tehran in Sunday evening.
PM Modi took time out to visit the famous Bhai Ganga Singh Sabha Gurudwara.
He applauded the efforts of the Sikh community in the Persian Gulf nation for preserving and spreading the culture and tradition of India.
“We accept all the people as our own and absorb them in our society because we believe in the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ — the entire world is one family. Animated by this spirit, we Indians make every country our home,” Modi told the gathering at the gurudwara.
Before PM Modi, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had visited Tehran.
(With inputs from PTI)