15.8.15

India and Iran economic cooperation and trade

.
.
.
.

Can’t forget support India gave us during difficult times, Iran says

By Times of India

On his first visit to India after the nuclear agreement freed Iran from global sanctions, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif held discussions with the Indian leadership on the ISIS threat, energy investments and development of Chahbahar port.

Speaking to journalists later, Zarif said India and Iran are talking about investing in each other's energy sector. He said India is an important player in West Asia and can play a leading role in the region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi "conveyed India's commitment to work with Iran for development of the Chabahar port that would have far reaching benefit, not only for the people of India and Iran, but also for Afghanistan and the entire Central Asia region," a PMO statement said. Zarif said Iran considered India its "strategic partner and cannot forget the support India extended to Iran during its difficult times", it said.

READ ALSO: Historic Iran N-deal to energize New Delhi's ties with Tehran

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said she raised the issue of imprisonment of 9 Indians in Iranian jails on charges of smuggling. After her meeting with Zarif, Swaraj tweeted, "I had a good meeting with Foreign Minister of Iran. I raised the issue of nine Indian sailors detained in Iran. I requested him for waiver of $2.9 million fine imposed on them and for their early release." However, signaling that the resolution would need a quid pro quo, Zarif said it was equally important to look at the Iranians imprisoned in India.

Chahbahar occupied a lot of discussions both with the PM and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari. India will invest just under $100 million on the port, which India believes is key for its connectivity with Central Asian countries. When Modi met Iranian Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani in Ufa, both leaders spoke about increasing Indian investments in Iran. India also owes Iran almost $6 billion in oil payments. Questioned about it, Zarif said, "There is no lack of political will, we are working through some of the modalities."

READ ALSO: India can always be part of our big-ticket projects, Iran says

Describing the implications of the nuclear deal, Zarif said it was "mutually beneficial". "We gained recognition for our peaceful nuclear programme," he said. "It's a major achievement for diplomacy, because negotiation and dialogue triumphed over pressure and coercion."

Zarif said Iran and India would cooperate against the deadly forces of Islamic State (ISIS). He said this should be looked upon as a common threat though "some countries in our region" are using ISIS as an opportunity to secure tactical gains, a reference to Saudi Arabia and Qatar where many have supported the radical outfit. "There should be some soul-searching in western countries about how it is that young men and women brutally killing innocent people are speaking in English and French with native accents," he said. Europe and the US have been seeing a veritable exodus of young men and women who are going to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS.

READ ALSO: Iran says it offers India bigger role in strategic port

MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup said in the energy sector, the aim is to move from the existing buyer-seller relationship to a genuine energy partnership involving both upstream and downstream. "We want Iran to regain its share of India's oil imports and we expect Iran to also make efforts to help promote participation of Indian companies. In this context, there was a discussion on Farzad B. An Indian company (OVL) had successfully discovered the field and it is our expectation that it will get the opportunity to develop it," the spokesman said.

"Proposals were also made to move ahead rapidly on a preferential trading agreement, and a business-to-business platform," he said.