Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday held “substantive” talks on key issues of terrorism, security, trade and energy, after which the two sides inked nine pacts, including a lease contract for a part of Chabahar port’s operation for 18 months. The two leaders also deliberated on regional situations during their wide-ranging talks. Addressing a joint press event with Rouhani, Modi said the two countries want a terror-free world and they were committed to stopping the expansion of powers that encourage terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, cyber crimes and other international crimes. On his part, Rouhani said, “We are determined to combat terrorism and extremism.” The Iranian leader also said that regional conflicts must be resolved through diplomacy and political initiatives, but did not specifically name any regional dispute. The two sides also inked nine pacts, which included lease contract between Iran’s Port and Maritime Organization and India’s Ports Global Limited (IPGL) to take over operation of existing facilities at the Shahid Beheshti Port — Phase 1 of Chabahar — for 18 months. Other pacts included avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, ratification of extradition treaty, exemption from visa requirement for holders of diplomatic passports, traditional systems of medicine and establishment of an expert group on trade remedy measures. In addition to these nine pacts, four more pacts were inked on the sidelines of Rouhani’s visit between the two countries, officials said.
Modi said the visit by the Iranian president shows how the two sides want to deepen cooperation in key areas, including connectivity.
Modi described the strategically-important Chabahar as a “golden gateway”, development of which will help in reaching out to land-locked Afghanistan and central Asia. The PM also appreciated the way the Iranian leader provided leadership in developing the Chabahar Port.
Noting that they had “positive talks” on tariff-related issues and banking relations, Rouhani said,”We have decided to expand cooperation in natural gas and petrochemical sector.” New Delhi has allowed investment in Indian rupees in Iran. The Indian move will hugely help the Iranian economy as it will draw in more Indian investment into Iran. Under this scheme, if an Indian businessman wants to invest a certain amount in rupees, he can deposit the money in rupees in the bona fide Iranian account in one of the Indian banks and the equivalent amount of Iranian rials will then be deposited in the venture in Iran. Trade bodies of India including FICCI, PHD Chambers and ASSOCHAM and Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture also inked MoUs on the sidelines.