New Delhi, Tehran all set to renew ties

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s visit this week will see New Delhi and Tehran discussing ways to renew bilateral economic engagement, with focus on India’s new proposals to set up an aluminium smelter plant and a fertilizer unit in the Islamic republic.

Zarif was Tehran’s chief negotiator for the recently concluded landmark deal with E3+3 over nuclear programme of Iran. His visit to New Delhi on Friday is expected to provide yet another opportunity to India to evince its state-owned companies’ interests in returning to hydrocarbon projects in Iran, as the deal clinched last month by Tehran and E3+3 (US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany) is likely to be followed by lifting of sanctions, officials told Deccan Herald.

Zarif will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hold a meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. He is also likely to have meetings with Chemical and Fertilizer Minister Ananth Kumar, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari and Minister of State for Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan.

India’s investment in Chabahar Port in Iran and ways for clearing payments for crude oil Indian petroleum companies imported from the Islamic republic in the past years was under sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union in addition to the ones imposed by United Nations.

New Delhi never officially endorsed unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran, and adhered to only the ones imposed by the United Nations. The curbs enforced by the western powers to put pressure on Tehran, however, forced India to cut down its crude oil import, primarily due to hassles in clearing payments.

Finance Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi recently led a delegation to Tehran to discuss ways to clear $6.5 billion India would have to pay to Iran for crude oil. Earlier, Gadkari became the first minister of the Modi government to visit Iran and his tour saw New Delhi inking a Memorandum of Understanding with Tehran, pledging to build a container terminal and a multi-purpose cargo terminal on two berths at the Chabahar Port.

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