India, Iran, Afghan Sign Trade Corridor Pact

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TEHRAN: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday described India-Iran friendship as “as old as history” after the two sides signed 12 agreements, including three on development of the Chabahar port in this Persian Gulf nation for enhanced connectivity.
“India and Iran are not new friends. Our Dosti is as old as history,” Modi said at a joint media conference with Iranian President Dr Hassan Rouhani at Sa’adabad Palace here. 
“Through centuries, our societies have stayed connected through art and architecture, ideas and traditions, and culture and commerce,” he said. 
Praising the Iran’s rich heritage, Indian premier said, “the beauty and richness of the Persian heritage has attracted the world to Iran”. He also added, “for me, visiting Iran is indeed a great privilege”.
Commenting on the ties between the country, Prime Minister said: “We can never forget that Iran was among the 1st countries to come forward in support when earthquake struck my state, Gujarat, in 2001.”
Thanking President Rouhani, he said, “Your leadership and the clarity of your vision have deeply impressed me.”
“The outcomes and agreements signed today open a new chapter in our strategic partnership,” he added.
“We exchanged views on the emerging regional situation and global issues of common concern,” he said.
“The agenda and scope of our partnership is truly substantial. The outcomes and agreements signed today open a new chapter in our strategic partnership.” 
Modi also said that the welfare of the people of the two countries was guiding the broad-based economic ties. 
On his part, Rouhani said that Iran always attached great importance to its relationship with India.
“The economic relationship and cooperation between the two countries will become much bigger,” he said.
“The relationship will go beyond mere trade relationship. When we are talking of economic relationship, we are talking of Iran and the surrounding countries with a population of 400 million and India with a population of one billion.” 
According to the Iranian president, Tehran and New Delhi have discussed cooperation in banking systems as well as bio-technology, nano-technology and aerospace.
Prior to the joint press conference, Iranian and Indian ministers signed 12 cooperation agreements, including an agreement to develop the southern Iranian port of Chabahar.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also arrived in Tehran on Monday to join Rouhani and Modi in signing a trilateral agreement.
Modi also invited President Rouhani to pay a visit to India for more negotiations and finalization of the agreements.
Indian Prime Minister’ s visit to Iran served as a fillip to the traditionally warm bilateral relations between the two nations. He visited the country following a trip by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan in April 2016.
According to this piece by The Diplomat, India has sent a clear message of wanting to strengthen economic ties with Tehran through these visits. Both the nations have always maintained friendly relations despite the sanctions imposed on Iran. 
Tehran’s alignment with Washington during the Cold War and New Delhi’s non-aligned position proved to be an ephemeral deterrent. India’s disapproval of the 1979 Iranian Revolution also temporarily soured ties between the two nations.
However, the amity was restored after the end of the Cold War and death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini.
Iran has the world’s second largest reserves of natural gas and it was India’s second biggest oil supplier until the US imposed economic sanctions on it. Despite the sanctions, India had been importing oil from the country through a rupee payment agreement. It is Iran’s biggest oil client after China, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
With the sanctions removed from Iran, India can liberally trade with the nation. India’s imports from Iran have nearly tripled since the sanctions were lifted, hitting 540,000 barrels per day, according to Genscape. Moreover, India can now pay $6.5 billion that it owes to Iran for crude oil purchases.
Modi calls on Iran’s supreme leader
Modi calls on Iran’s supreme leaderTehran: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei here.
“A rare honour, signifying the strength of the unique relationship. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei receives PM @narendramodi,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
It was not immediately known what transpired during the meeting.
Earlier Modi attended the inauguration of a two-day conference titled “India-Iran Two Great Civilisations: Retrospect-Prospects” held as part of the “Cultural Festival of India in Iran” being organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in collaboration with the Indian embassy in Tehran, Bonyad-e-Sadi, and Farhangistan-e-Zaban-o-Adab-e-Farsi.

 

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