Easing the process of issuing visas to Iranians after India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised the same to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani after easing of Western sanctions against Tehran, Iran is now out of the restricted Prior Referral Category (PRC) of countries for issuing visas.
Under the category of PRC countries, India grants visa only after its mission or consulate in that country runs a thorough background check on the individual applicant. Countries in the PRC list include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and China. When Mr Modi met Mr Rouhani in Ufa, Russia, in July days ahead of the historic nuclear deal between Tehran and the world powers, he had assured that the visa process for Iranians would be made easier.
The idea is to bring in a liberalised visa regime for the Iranians. India had been considering taking this step to strengthen economic with Iran.
The Indo-Iran Joint Commission meeting, to be led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Iran’s Economic Minister, in Delhi later this month is expected to give thrust to economic ties between the two countries.
Iran has been objecting that keeping the country in the PRC category was an impediment to fostering relations as both sides are keen to realise untapped potential in trade, investments, connectivity and security. India and Iranian officials are hopeful of concluding a contract next month for Indian assistance of USD 100 million for expanding Iran’s Chabahar port after prolonged delay.
India and Iran are also looking forward to activate transport corridors (International North-South Transport Corridor and other corridors) to Russia and Central Asia through Iran and explore a trilateral cooperation with Oman. Apart from Indian investment in oil and gas fields in Iran, the two countries are also exploring cooperation in industries such as petrochemicals, steel, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s certificate to Iran will help ease sanctions and open up opportunities for Indian companies in the country with a young and skilled population and a large consumer base.
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