Putting an end to all speculation, India and Iran on Monday signed an agreement to develop Chabahar port and related infrastructure, with New Delhi offering Tehran USD 500 million. The deal is strategically crucial for India, as it won’t have to depend on neighbouring Pakistan for access to Afghanistan and energy-rich Central Asia.
Soon after senior officials of the two countries signed the deal in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the visiting premier described the agreement as an ‘important milestone’, saying that the deal would help two friendly nations boost trade ties. Modi also said that the Iranian port would link South Asia with Europe.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was also present on the occasion, as India and Iran roped in Afghanistan for the trade corridor. Later, India, Iran and Afghanistan inked a trilateral pact for a common trade corridor, which (according to the Indian PM) could be considered as a foundation of convergence between the three as it would spur unhindered flow of commerce throughout the region. “Today, we are all witnessing creation of history, not just for the people of our three countries, but for the entire region. To build bonds of connectivity is the most basic of human urges,” stressed Modi.
Meanwhile, India and Iran joined hands against terrorism. During their meeting, Prime Minister Modi and President Rouhani called for zero tolerance to terrorism in order to ensure peace in the region. Without naming any country, the two leaders also called for an immediate end to all support and sanctuaries for terror outfits. They issued a joint statement, saying that India and Iran feel the need to completely eradicate all forms of terrorism and defeat the forces of extremism. New Delhi and Tehran further agreed to “consult closely and regularly on combating threats of terrorism, radicalism, drug trafficking and cyber crime”.
PM Modi, who arrived in Tehran on Sunday evening, received a ceremonial welcome on Monday morning before his close door meeting with President Rouhani to discuss various aspects of bilateral ties. In Tehran, he inaugurated an Indian cultural festival and held separate talks with Supreme Iranian leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei to discuss important bilateral, regional and international issues. The Indian PM’s visit comes four months after the sanctions on Iran were lifted by the Western powers.