The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of IRNA
In an exclusive interview with IRNA in New Delhi, Modi said: “Lifting of the international sanctions against Iran has opened up immense opportunities for both the countries, especially in the economic sphere. India and Iran have always focused to add strength to our relations, even during the difficult times. In the current context, both countries can look to expand our cooperation in the fields of trade, technology, investment and infrastructure and energy security.”
“Energy is one of the most important dimensions of our bilateral economic cooperation. With Farzad-B, we have gone beyond the buyer-seller relationship to being genuine partners in the field of energy.'
Referring to his meeting with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Russia in 2015, Modi said: “Last time, when I met President Rouhani in Ufa in 2015, I had also mentioned the possibilities of cooperation in ports, fertilizers and petrochemicals.”
Expressing satisfaction over the progress made so far on the participation of India in development of the Iranian port of Chabahar, he said: “I am happy that progress has been made on Chabahar Port and also on wider connectivity initiative involving Chabahar. Our public and private sectors are keen to invest in Iran. At the same time, we would also welcome the flow of capital and investments from Iran.”
On the issues that would dominate his agenda during his meetings with Iranian top leaders, the Indian Prime Minister said: “Iran is part of our extended neighbourhood, an important country in the region and one of India's valuable partners. We are connected with each other by the shared history and civilisational ties. We have shared interest in peace, stability and prosperity of the region. Combating the menace of international terrorism and radical ideologies is a common challenge.”
“I had a very fruitful meeting with President Dr Hassan Rouhani in Ufa in July last year. I was deeply impressed with the vision and clarity that President Rouhani has for strengthening of the strategic partnership between India and Iran,” Modi added.
Elaborating on the areas of mutual interest of Iran and India for further deepening of their bilateral cooperation, Modi said: “Our deep commitment and quick decision making encourages both the sides to work even harder to implement the ambitious agenda before us. This includes enhancing connectivity, building infrastructure, deepening energy partnership, diversifying trade, promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges.”
On his possible meetings with the Iranian top leadership, Modi said: “My visit to Iran will be the first bilateral one of an Indian Prime Minister to the country after a gap of nearly 15 years. I am looking forward to meet the Supreme Leader His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. We would have the opportunity to hold wide ranging discussions on bilateral, regional and global issues. We also hope to draw out a roadmap to realise the full potential of our relationship.”
Expressing confidence over the fruitful result of his forthcoming visit to Iran, Modi said: “I am confident of concrete outcomes from this visit in several areas of our bilateral engagement. These would allow us to strengthen and advance our comprehensive partnership. I believe that our partnership can not only be of our mutual benefit but it can also contribute to the regional peace, stability and prosperity.”
Elaborating the most important areas of cooperation between Iran and India after lifting of the Western sanctions on Iran, PM Modi said: “Taking concrete steps for enhancing regional connectivity is one of the most important and promising dimension of the growing cooperation between our two countries. Apart from this, building a genuine energy partnership, cooperation in the infrastructure, ports, railway and petrochemicals sectors and developing the age-old civilisational ties through people-to-people exchanges in the modern times will also be a priority.”
On the possible agreements to be signed during his stay in Iran, the Indian Prime Minister said: “Let us not prejudge the visit. But, we are confident that my visit would have concrete outcomes, including in the fields of energy, infrastructure, trade, investment and culture. We are confident of turning a new leaf in the history of our relationship and, in months and years ahead, advance a new dimension in our comprehensive strategic partnership.”
Highlighting India’s growing need for energy and Iran’s potential to supply the same, Modi said: “India is a country with growing energy needs and Iran has the second largest gas reserves in the world. So, there is natural complementarity between our two countries. We have been in constant touch with each other on Farzad-B gas field, which provides the perfect match between India’s demand of energy and Iran’s supply capacities. Indian companies have already invested about US$ 100 million in exploration and development of Farzad-B gas field.”
“We look forward to an early conclusion of the commercial discussions so that concrete cooperation could be operationalized at an early date,” he added.
On the Indian position on possibility of laying down a gas pipeline between Chabhar in Iran and Gujarat in India, Modi said: “Our Government is excited at the possibilities that Chabahar has to offer for India, Iran and the entire region. Chabahar can be important to develop a network of regional connectivity. It can become a regional hub for transportation and trade as well as flow of energy resources. I think Afghanistan also looks at the opportunities from development of Chabahar much in the same way.”
‘The bilateral energy cooperation and its different elements are important for both India and Iran. At the present stage, when we are re-invigorating our bilateral economic cooperation with Iran, especially in the field of energy all the feasible and reasonable modes of evacuation of gas would be explored with a view to advancing them suitably,” added the Indian Prime Minister.