With India and Iran having decided to give a major push to their bilateral ties in all aspects including connectivity for which New Delhi will participate in the upgradation of Chahbahar container terminal project, agriculture, pharma products and aeronautics are new sectors which would see increased cooperation.
During a meeting between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi under the framework of Joint Commission, the two sides agreed to work on a trilateral transit agreement involving India, Iran and Afghanistan.
Though the government has given in-principle nod to this project, sources said India was also exploring investments in a proposed Chabahar-Faraj-Bam railway. Once this railroad is complete, containers can be sent to Bam, on the Afghan border. Then onward journey can commence along the 200-km India-built Zaranj-Delaram road that connects with Afghanistan’s garland highway, linking all major cities.
Analysts point out that India’s participation in upgrading the Chabahar port has deep geopolitical resonance, as the full development of the port would lower landlocked Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistani ports for assured access to the sea.
According to sources, India is keen to push these projects in view of the drawdown of the NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2014. That is why, as a follow up, secretary, Ministry of Shipping, will soon be traveling to Tehran for negotiations on cost and other aspects. The Iranian side underlined that the project is important not only for Iran and Afghanistan but for entire central Asia. And for the railway project officials are expected to leave for Tehran shortly, said sources.
Both countries have also reviewed the progress on the proposed North-South corridor which will link Russia with Iran, with Khurshid saying that any obstructions or any hurdles should be resolved.
The two sides reiterated importance of enhancing cooperation in expanding trade and banking relations and agreed to study the prospects of joint investment in both countries. And inked three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), including one on water resources management.