Lifting of international sanctions on Iran has opened up immense opportunities and India is looking to expand cooperation with the Persian Gulf nation in sectors such as trade, investment, infrastructure and energy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today.
“India and Iran have always focused to add strength to our relations, even during the difficult times. In the current context, both countries can look to expand our cooperation in the fields of trade, technology, investment and infrastructure and energy security,” he told Iran’s IRNA news agency ahead of his arrival here on a two-day visit.
Stating that Indian public and private sector firms were keen on investing in Iran, he said the signing of agreement on development of Chabahar port will provide wider connectivity.
“Lifting of the international sanctions against Iran has opened up immense opportunities for both the countries, especially in the economic sphere,” Modi said, adding India is keen to enhance its investment in the Persian Gulf nation and also welcomes flow of capital and investments from the oil-rich nation.
Modi, who will meet President Hassan Rouhani tomorrow for formal talks, said he had during their last meeting at Ufa last year indicated possibilities of cooperation in ports, fertiliser and petrochemical sector.
“Energy is one of the most important dimensions of our bilateral economic cooperation. With Farzad-B, we have gone beyond the buyer-seller relationship to being genuine partners in the field of energy,” he said.
State-owned ONGC is in talks to secure development rights for the gas field it had discovered in 2008. It has already invested about USD 100 million in the gas field.
Expressing satisfaction over the progress made so far on the participation of India in development of the Iranian port of Chabahar, he said: “I am happy that a progress has been made on Chabahar Port and also on wider connectivity initiative involving Chabahar.
“Our public and private sectors are keen to invest in Iran. At the same time, we would also welcome the flow of capital and investments from Iran.”
Elaborating on the agenda for his meetings with top Iranian leadership, Modi said: “Iran is part of our extended neighbourhood, an important country in the region and one of the India’s valuable partners. We are connected with each other by the shared history and civilisational ties.”
India has “shared interest” in peace, stability and prosperity of the region, Modi said, adding combating the menace of international terrorism and radical ideologies is a common challenge for both the countries.
“Taking concrete steps for enhancing regional connectivity is one of the most important and promising dimensions of the growing cooperation between our two countries,” Modi said.
Apart from this, building a genuine energy partnership, cooperation in the infrastructure, ports, railway and petrochemicals sectors and developing age-old civilisational ties through people-to-people exchanges in the modern times will also be a priority, he elaborated.
On the possible agreements to be signed during his stay in Iran, the Indian Prime Minister said: “Let us not prejudge the visit. But, we are confident that my visit would have concrete outcomes, including in the fields of energy, infrastructure, trade, investment and culture.
“We are confident of turning a new leaf in the history of our relationship and, in months and years ahead, advance a new dimension in our comprehensive strategic partnership.”
Highlighting India’s growing need for energy and Iran’s potential to supply the same, Modi said: “India is a country with growing energy needs and Iran has the second largest gas reserves in the world. So, there is natural complementarity between our two countries.”
He further said both countries have been in constant touch with each other on Farzad-B gas field, which provides the perfect match between India’s demand of energy and Iran’s supply capacities.
“We look forward to an early conclusion of the commercial discussions so that concrete cooperation could be operationalised at an early date,” he said.
On the Indian position on possibility of laying down a gas pipeline between Chabhar in Iran and Gujarat in India, Modi said: “Our government is excited at the possibilities that Chabahar has to offer for India, Iran and the entire region.”
Chabahar can be important to develop a network of regional connectivity. It can become a regional hub for transportation and trade as well as flow of energy resources, Modi noted.
“I think Afghanistan also looks at the opportunities from development of Chabahar much in the same way,” he added.
The bilateral energy cooperation and its different elements are important for both India and Iran, Modi said.
“At the present stage, when we are re-invigorating our bilateral economic cooperation with Iran, especially in the field of energy, all the feasible and reasonable modes of evacuation of gas would be explored with a view to advancing them suitably,” he added.