Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed the need to consolidate Tehran-New Delhi relations, and expressed readiness to continue talks on early completion of Iran's Chabahar port later this month.
Khurshid and Zarif, in a meeting in the Indian capital on Friday, agreed that specific proposals on construction of Chabahar port could be finalized by March-end, PTI quoted official sources as saying.
Chabahar Port is located 72 kilometers West of Pakistan's Gwadar port.
"Chabahar and a corridor, both rail and road from Chabahar to Afghanistan and Central Asia, is a project we are working together with India. I hope that in this trip, we can take practical steps (to implement the project)," Zarif said on Thursday.
According to PTI, aspects like investment and construction of roads to link the port are expected to be discussed in the talks.
India's interest in the Iranian port is not only to obtain a direct access to Central Asia but also to facilitate import of minerals from Afghanistan.
Zarif said the project could offer security benefit as it has potential to spur economic growth in the region affected by terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal trade.
"This region is suffering from a war economy, drug economy and from illegal trade economy. If we can provide an alternative economy, then we can deal with problems like terrorism," he said.
The Iranian Foreign Minister also said both India and Iran should work together to ensure stability and overall growth of the region.
Zarif, who is on a two-day official visit to India, arrived at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday.
On Friday, he also hold separate meetings with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singhand Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Advisor to Premier in National Security Affairs Shivshankar Menon.
India is among Asia’s major importers of energy and relies on Iran to meet a portion of its energy demands. Iran was the second-largest supplier of India’s crude before the US-engineered sanctions were imposed on Tehran about two years ago.
Iran and India which have deep historical and cultural relations are now seeking to further expand political and economic ties.
India, the world's fourth-largest petroleum consumer, is Iran's second largest oil customer after China and purchases around $12bln worth of Iranian crude every year, about 12 percent of its consumption.
India and Iran have been holding discussions at regular intervals on issues related to economic cooperation under the joint commission mechanism, which was established in July 1983.