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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