PM's Iran visit likely; India keen to invest in steel, power sectors

PM's Iran visit likely; India keen to invest in steel, power sectors

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may visit Tehran this year, as New Delhi seeks to step up its economic engagement with Iran, which has finally come out of the shadow of sanctions imposed by United Nations, European Union and United States.

Apart from raising crude oil import from Iran, New Delhi is also keen to speed up discussions with Tehran for Indian oil PSUs’ role in hydrocarbon exploration and production in Islamic Republic as well as to move fast for developing the Chabahar Port in the south-eastern coast of the West Asian nation.

India is also keen to invest in steel, power and petrochemicals sectors in Iran and hopes to move fast on normalizing trade ties with Islamic Republic, officials told Deccan Herald in New Delhi. The sanctions on Iran were lifted on Saturday after the International Atomic Energy Agency verified that Tehran had fulfilled its commitment to scale back its controversial nuclear program in accordance with its July 14, 2015 agreement with E3+3 (US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany).

Ever since Tehran and E3+3 announced a breakthrough in the negotiations in April 2015, India moved fast to breathe fresh life into its traditional ties with Iran. Sources said that New Delhi and Tehran were discussing a proposal for a visit by prime minister to Iran, possibly by the middle of the year.

Modi had his first meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sideline of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s summit at Ufa in Russia in July 2015. Rouhani invited prime minister for a visit to Tehran.

Iran was the second largest source of crude oil imports after Saudi Arabia for India. The sanctions, however, prompted New Delhi to cut down its crude imports from Iran.

But as prospects of lifting sanctions on Iran brightened after Tehran’s deal with E3+3, India gradually raised oil imports from Islamic Republic. The quantum of India’s import from Iran last month was the highest in six months. India, the biggest oil client of Iran after China, shipped in 208,300 bpd of oil and condensate in 2015.

New Delhi already pledged to build a container terminal and a multi-purpose cargo terminal on two berths at the Chabahar Port in south-eastern coast of Iran.

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