Modi’s visit to Iran: Economic, Trade Ties On Agenda
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to make an official visit to Iran on May 22 in a bid to spruce up bilateral ties with Iran by signing major economic cooperation agreements, the Iranian president’s office announced.
During the visit, both sides will ink a number of agreements to deepen their mutual ties in the post-sanction era, a statement from President Hassan Rouhani’s office said.
The documents will encompass economic, trade, investment, transportation, ports developments and culture science sectors.
During his two-day visit to Tehran, Modi will be accompanied by a high-ranking politico-economic delegation.
Among the agreements to be signed, development of Iran’s southeastern Chabahar port city by India was of high importance. India said it was ready to invest in the development of Chabahar.
In May 2014, India and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly develop the port once the international sanctions against Iran were lifted.
Both sides agreed as per the MoU to allow India lease two docks at the port for a period of 10 years, a move that was meant to cut India’s crude oil and urea transportation costs by around 30 percent.
Chabahar is located in the Gulf of Oman bordering Pakistan. India’s move to develop Chabahar port, if implemented, would enable New Delhi to dodge Pakistan and establish a strategic connectivity to Afghanistan as well as Central Asia.
Concurrent with Modi’s visit, the Afghan president will also arrive in Tehran to sign a trilateral deal regarding Iran’s Chabahar Port.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made his first visit to Iran in March, 2015, when the two countries stressed cooperation in executing bilateral and multilateral projects with regional countries, particularly with India, to develop Chabahar port.
Under the agreement which was finalized in April, India will be allowed access to Afghanistan via the strategically located port of Chabahar.
The Chabahar route to Afghanistan will allow Indian goods to reach Afghanistan without crossing Pakistan territory.
India says the agreement will be a strategic bulwark for greater flow of people and goods among the three countries, as well as in the region.
On Thursday, Iran also held a meeting in Chabahar with the participation of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) member states.
Iran’s First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri urged the IORA member states on Thursday to invest in Iran’s development projects, official IRNA news agency reported.
Iran has comprehensive plans on the development of infrastructures, including roads, railroads and ports, Jahangiri said in IORA Free Trade Zone Authorities Meeting, held in Iran’s Chabahar Free Trade-Industrial Zone (CFZ), southeast of Iran.
Jahangiri said the country’s capacity in energy, mineral resources, as well as young and educated human resource, provide an opportunity for the other countries to invest in Iran.
The transit routes that Iran can provide for the Indian Ocean littoral states would enable them to have access to markets in Central Asia, Jahangiri said.
“Iran can be a corridor connecting the Indian Ocean littoral countries to the markets in Central Asia and Caucasia with a population of 300 million,” he was quoted as saying.
Iran was ready to boost economic ties with the IORA member states, he stressed.
The two-day meeting in Iran’s Chabahar port city aims to provide the IORA members and other participants with new opportunities in regional and multilateral relations within a free-trade-zone framework.
Iran has reportedly said that it can be a “reliable partner” for India’s energy needs and New Delhi has lined up $20 billion investment in oil and gas, petrochemical and fertilizer projects in that country.