India-Iran ties set to fly high: Energy partnership, enhanced trade on agenda

India’s multi-faceted ties with Iran are set to move into a higher trajectory, with a spate of significant outcomes emerging from Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s day-long visit to New Delhi. The proposals firmed up during the visit will scale up economic ties and transform the buyer-seller relationship to a genuine energy partnership.

Indian private investors got a shot in the arm with Mr Zarif announcing in New Delhi that Iran is open to Indian private companies investing in the Chabahar Port. Mr Zarif is on his first visit to India after the historic nuclear deal struck between Iran and the P5+1 member countries last month.

“Both India and Iran are eager to engage in this. I believe we will soon start serious work,” Mr Zarif said in New Delhi, adding that the two countries already have an agreement in place. The deal to develop the Chabahar Port was signed between India and Iran in May 2015.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met her Iranian counterpart and discussed a host of “forward-looking proposals” that are set the stage for accelerating bilateral relations across the spectrum, which suffered due to a spate of Western sanctions imposed on Tehran to curtail its nuclear programme suspected of developing atomic weapons.

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Iran’s Foreign Minister to target India opportunity

A month after Tehran struck a historic nuclear deal with the world’s major powers, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will be in New Delhi for a day-long visit that signals Iran’s intent to scale up economic and energy ties with one of its key partners in Asia.

The suave Zarif, Tehran’s key interlocutor in the P5+1 nuclear deal and a trusted aide of President Hassan Rouhani, will be in India on August 14 to explore new opportunities that will flow from the expected lifting of Western sanctions on Iran by the end of the year.

The India trip is part of Mr Zarif’s regional visit. He will visit Pakistan on August 13 and is scheduled to meet the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Foreign Affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz. He has been visiting many countries after the nuclear deal, especially in West Asia.

Mr Zarif is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. The main focus during his visit would be on discussing increasing Indian imports of Iranian oil and boosting trade. India is one of the largest importers of Iranian oil in Asia, which is expected to rise substantially after the lifting of sanctions. Prior to the imposition of Western sanctions, Iran was the second largest supplier of India’s crude.

The Iranian foreign minister is expected to update the Indian leadership on the nitty-gritty of the nuclear deal and map out a plan for re-energizing India-Iran relations in a host of areas, including trade and investment, energy partnership and strategic areas like the prospects of cooperation amid unfolding transition in Afghanistan. India’s ongoing assistance for building the Chabahar port that will open direct access to Central Asia is also expected to come up for review.

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India hails P5+1 nuclear deal as triumph of diplomacy

The historic nuclear deal between the West and Iran has sparked a wave of applause from around the world and elicited a strong welcome from India.

The P5+1 (US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany) have reached what US President Barack Obama has called a “historic understanding with Iran”. The framework agreement chalks out the agenda for future negotiations, the nuanced details of which shall be worked over the next three months. It allays the fears of Iran gaining nuclear weapons under the guise of pursuing a civilian nuclear programme (under these conditions the “breakout time” would be a year, if the deal is broken), and is a big step in ending the decades of sanction and diplomatic apartheid Iran has faced from the West and its allies.

Calling it a triumph of dialogue and diplomacy, India, which has shielded its partnership with Tehran from Western pressure, has promptly welcomed the accord in Lausanne. “A significant step seems to have been taken with agreement on the parameters of a comprehensive settlement to be negotiated by June 30,” India’s external affairs ministry said in a statement.

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