India seeks significant economic gain in Prime Minister's visit to Tehran

GMT 18:17 2016 Saturday ,21 May

Arab Today, arab today India seeks significant economic gain in Prime Minister's visit to Tehran

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Tehran - XINHUA

After years of dilly-dally in its ties with the Islamic republic, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make an imminent official visit to Iran to discuss topics with significant economic advantages.

During Modi's visit to Iran, "he is expected to sign a number of important economic documents, including preferential trade agreement, avoidance of excessive taxation in bilateral trade, support of mutual investments" as well as cultural and tourist accords, Hassan Nourian, an Iranian West Asia analyst, said on Saturday.

Modi will arrive in Iran's capital Tehran on May 22 in a bid to spruce up bilateral ties with the Islamic republic by signing major economic cooperation agreements.

During his two-day visit to Tehran, Modi will be accompanied by a high-ranking politico-economic delegation.

"However, by far the most important aspect of his visit, from the politicians and political analysts' vantage point, is India's investment in (the development of) Iran's Chabahar port city as well as the construction of petrochemical and urea fertilizer plants in Iran," Nourian wrote in Iran's Etemad Newspaper.

In May 2014, India and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly develop the port once the international sanctions against Iran were lifted.

Both sides agreed as per the MoU to allow India lease two docks at the port for a period of 10 years, a move that was meant to cut India's crude oil and urea transportation costs by around 30 percent.

Chabahar is located in the Gulf of Oman on the border with Pakistan. India's move to develop Chabahar port, if implemented, would enable New Delhi to dodge Pakistan and establish a strategic connectivity to Afghanistan as well as Central Asia.

Concurrent with Modi's visit, the Afghan president will also arrive in Tehran to sign a trilateral deal regarding Iran's Chabahar port.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made his first visit to Iran in March, 2015, when the two countries stressed cooperation in executing bilateral and multilateral projects with regional countries, particularly with India, to develop Chabahar port.

Under the agreement which was finalized in April, India will be allowed access to Afghanistan via the strategically located port of Chabahar.

The Chabahar route to Afghanistan will allow Indian goods to reach Afghanistan without crossing Pakistan territory.

India says the agreement will be a strategic bulwark for greater flow of people and goods among the three countries, as well as in the region.

Modi's visit would be an important marker in Iran and India's relations, and New Delhi's resolve to instill momentum in the projects in the southeastern Iran in post sanction era would further be a turning point in the mutual ties, Nourian said.

On Thursday, Iran also held a meeting in Chabahar with the participation of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) member states aimed at urging investments in Iran's development projects in the region.

Iran has comprehensive plans on the development of infrastructures, including roads, railroads and ports in Chabar region, and the country's capacity in energy, mineral resources, as well as young and educated human resource, providing an opportunity for the other countries to invest in the country, Iran's First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri told the meeting.

Another important topic on the agenda of Modi's visit is the return of the Indians to one of the country's major gas fields, the Farzad B gas project and its development, Nourian said, adding that Iran's economic projects and its energy resources appeal much to the Indians as they ambition to up their GDP growth to eight percent in 2017.

As regards with energy, the Farzad B gas project would be another fruit for Delhi's energy needs and Delhi is likely to move further ahead on this during the visit, Indian Express wrote on Thursday.

While India's core interest remains energy, connectivity has become a major thrust area. New Delhi has made it a strategic priority since access to Afghanistan and Central Asia is important to Indian interests, it said.

"Iran and India as two important and influential countries in West Asia share mutual, regional and international interests, and proximity of these two major Asian powers can be beneficial to the international community in the current global circumstances," the Iranian expert Nourian concluded.

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