India, Iran ink pact to develop Chabahar port

Sign deal on rail link to Afghanistan, Central Asia
Last Updated 23 May 2016, 20:27 IST

A “milestone” pact on the strategic Chabahar Port in southern Iran was among the several agreements signed by New Delhi and Tehran here on Monday. New Delhi will invest $ 500 million in Chabahar Port which will give India access to Afghanistan and Europe, bypassing Pakistan.

A trilateral agreement on Transport and Transit Corridor was also signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi said could “alter the course of the history of the region”.

The bilateral agreements signed by India and Iran after detailed discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Hassan Rouhani included one on setting up of an aluminium plant and another on laying a railway line to give India access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

The agreements, aimed at further deepening India-Iran ties in diverse fields, covered areas of economy, trade, transportation, port development, culture, science and academic cooperation.

Modi’s visit, the first by an Indian prime minister in 15 years, comes months after the lifting of international sanctions on Iran following Tehran’s historic nuclear deal with the western powers over its contentious atomic programme.

The then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited the country in April 2001. Describing the signing of the trilateral corridor as “opening of a new chapter”, Modi said, “today, we all are witnessing creation of history, not just for the people of our three countries but the entire region. It will build bonds of connectivity.” “The arc of economic benefit will go beyond the three countries... Its reach can extend to Central Asian countries. It can link south Asia on one end and Europe on the other,” said Modi.

Rouhani, while describing the Chabahar agreement as a “spring” in the ties among the three countries, said it was “not against any country”, an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Noting that terrorism and ideologies of violent extremism pose a grave threat to peace, security, stability and development of the region, India and Iran stressed the need to completely eradicate all forms of terrorism, and defeat the forces of extremism.

Other deals
An agreement to provide $ 150 million credit line was signed by Exim Bank of India. State-owned NALCO signed an MoU to look at the possibility of setting up a 0.5 million tonne aluminium smelter at Chabahar free trade zone, provided Iran gives cheap natural gas.

An MoU was also signed between the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran and the Export Guarantee Corporation of India.

Another MoU was signed between the School for International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran and the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of India.

Also signed was an executive protocol between the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology of Iran, and India’s Ministry of Science and Technology and an MoU between National Archives of India and National Library of Iran.

(Published 23 May 2016, 20:27 IST)

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