Iran President Hassan Rouhani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to strengthen India-Iran relations
Irani President Hassan Rouhani arrived in New Delhi on Saturday and was greeted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ram Nath Kovind. Rouhani’s visit comes a month after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was here, indicating India’s balancing act. Rouhani’s first stop was Hyderabad where he talked about “unity against western powers” and praised India for “peaceful coexistence” of people of different religions.
- PM Narendra Modi & President of Iran Hassan Rouhani issue joint postal stamp.
- Joint statement issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iran President Hassan Rouhani
Top 10 developments of Rouhani’s New Delhi visit today
- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s full schedule in Delhi
Earlier in the day, Rouhani inspected the Guard of Honour and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind. Following this, he was greeted by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. President Rouhani will attend a business event at Hotel Leela Palace, which is also located in diplomatic enclave – Chanakyapuri. At noon, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet at Hyderabad House in Delhi. The meeting will last for nearly two hours, at the end of which, at 1:50 pm, both leaders will give a joint press statement. Agreements signed between Iran and India will also be exchanged at the time.
At 4 pm this evening, The Iranian president will participate at the Observer Research Foundation lecture at the Taj Mahal Hotel (Taj Mansingh) in Delhi. He will then proceed to Hotel ITC Maurya where Vice President Venkaiah Naidu will meet him.
Later in the evening, President Rouhani will meet the members of the Parsi community at an event at Hotel ITC Maurya. In his last engagement for the day, the Iranian president will meet his Indian counterpart at the Rashtrapati Bhavan at 7:30 pm.
- Rouhani visit agenda – Oil and Gas
Oil and gas cooperation will be the other issue on the table. India imports oil and gas from Iran, but negotiations have been pending on Farzad-B gas and oil fields in south Iran, which India has expressed interest in.
“Iran has abundant oil and natural gas resources and is willing to share them with India for its progress and prosperity of (its) people,” Mr Rouhani said in Hyderabad.
A 21-member delegation of ministers and businessmen from Iran is accompanying him and they are looking to seal a number of deals.
- Geopolitical decision
The United States has said that it will not come in the way of India-Iran trade matters. In October 2017, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a visit to India, had said the Trump administration saw “no contradiction” with US-Iran sanctions and India’s port project in Chabahar. In a major geopolitical decision, Indians can invest in Iranian infrastructure and connectivity projects in rupees, making Iran the only country apart from Bhutan and Nepal to get this privilege. This helps Iran bypass sanctions and boost ties with India.
- Operationalisation of Chabahar port
India and Iran will be hoping to iron out several issues, particularly the progress on the deepwater Chabahar Port that Iran feels has got stuck due to the US pressure on other countries and the latest set of sanctions against Iran. India is already routing a consignment of 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar port. The $85 million port project, just 90 km from the China-sponsored Gwadar port in Pakistan, is significant as it gives a transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. Operationalisation of the Chabahar port, which is strategically located in Iran and gives India access to landlocked Afghanistan, is on the top of the agenda. India hosting Rouhani, and its commitment to push forward the Chabahar project, will also test the country’s bilateral ties with the US, which, under the Donald Trump administration, has threatened to impose sanctions on Iran.
- Iran ready to simplify visa procedure: Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Tehran is ready to simplify visa procedures and hoped India will reciprocate to facilitate easy movement of people between the two countries.
- Rouhani visit comes a month after Netanyahu visit
Rouhani’s visit, exactly a month after Netanyahu’s, is seen as India’s act of balancing the relationship in the west Asian region. Iran and Israel have a strained relationship, but since India has “strategic interests” with both countries, government officials had earlier said that New Delhi needs to carefully balance bilateral ties with both.
- Narendra Modi, Hassan Rouhani may discuss rupee investment mechanism today
Media reports on Friday suggested that to circumvent tough trade sanctions in place against financial transactions with Iran, New Delhi has decided to allow rupee investments. Currently, Indians can invest using the rupee only in Bhutan and Nepal.
Senior government and industry sources said on Friday an announcement might be made on Saturday when Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
- Hassan Rouhani in Hyderabad
Rouhani, who is a senior Shia cleric, on Friday visited the historic Mecca Masjid, a Sunni mosque, in Hyderabad to offer prayers and called for unity among Muslims across the world.
In his 30-minute public speech in Persian, said to be the first by any country’s leader in this mosque, Rouhani urged Muslims to treat all human beings with love and affection in the true spirit of Islam. “If Islam is presented before the world in true sense, then the whole world will love this religion,” he said.
- Hassan Rouhani’s 1994 India visit
On a visit to India in August 1994, Hassan Rouhani, then Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (effectively the National Security Adviser), spoke about the treatment of minorities, including, according to some accounts, their “persecution” in the wake of the Babri demolition. He recognised the Hurriyat Conference as “true representatives” of Kashmiris.
- The Trilateral Transit Agreement (Chabahar Agreement) was also signed by transport ministers of India, Iran and Afghanistan in the presence of Modi, Rouhani and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. The contract entails capital investment of $85 million by India for equipping Chabahar port in southeastern Iran. According to the external affairs ministry, India-Iran bilateral trade during the fiscal year 2016-17 was $12.89 billion. India imported $10.5 billion worth of goods, mainly crude oil, and exported commodities worth $2.4 billion