Iran of­fers In­dia big­ger role in strate­gic port; seeks in­vest­ment worth $8 bil­lion

Bhutan Times - - Neighbour - Source: The Eco­nomic Times

New Delhi; Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani has asked In­dia to in­vest in­fra­struc­ture projects worth USD 8 bil­lion in­clud­ing an ex­panded role in de­vel­op­ing a strate­gic port that will open up ac­cess to cen­tral Asia, Iran’s en­voy to New Delhi said on Fri­day.

The port of Chaba­har in south­east Iran is cen­tral to In­dia’s ef­forts to cir­cum­vent arch-ri­val Pak­istan and open up a route to land­locked Afghanistan where it has de­vel­oped close se­cu­rity ties and eco­nomic in­ter­ests.

Rouhani sug­gested the larger role for In­dia dur­ing a meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on the side­lines of a sum­mit in Rus­sia days be­fore the his­toric nu­clear deal be­tween Iran and world pow­ers, Iran’s am­bas­sador to In­dia told Reuters.

“The po­ten­tial be­tween Iran and In­dia is great but we were just fac­ing such a wall of sanc­tions, wall of Amer­i­can pres­sure,” am­bas­sador Gho­lam­reza An­sari said.

An­sari said that with sanc­tions likely to be lifted soon, it was a golden time for In­dia to seize in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause of the two coun­tries’ close trade ties and shared in­ter­est in im­prov­ing cen­tral trans­port links.

“Con­nec­tiv­ity is the main pol­icy of Modi that co­in­cides with Iran’s gov­ern­ment pol­icy,” An­sari said. “We have of­fered them, in con­nec­tivy, USD8 bil­lion of projects.”

Modi’s meet­ing with Rouhani was part of a tour of cen­tral Asia fo­cused on in­creas­ing In­dia’s role in the re­gion, It was not im­me­di­ately clear how Modi re­sponded to Rouhani’s of­fer, coun­try’s for­eign min­istry did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Iran and six world pow­ers reached a nu­clear deal on Tues­day, clear­ing the way for an eas­ing of sanc­tions on Tehran.

In­dia and Iran agreed in 2003 to de­velop Chaba­har on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s bor­der with Pak­istan, but the ven­ture has moved slowly be­cause of the sanc­tions over Iran’s atomic pro­gramme.

The two coun­tries main­tained a close re­la­tion­ship de­spite the USled trade re­stric­tions that halved their oil trade to 220,000 bar­rels per day last year.

In May, In­dia’s ship­ping Min­is­ter Nitin Gad­kari and his coun­ter­part, Ab­bas Ahamad Akhoundi, signed an USD85 mil­lion deal for In­dia to lease two ex­ist­ing berths at the port and use them as multi-pur­pose cargo ter­mi­nals.

Un­der the new pro­posal In­dia could help build sec­ond and third ter­mi­nals at the port, as well as rail­way con­nec­tions into the rest of Iran, An­sari said.

In­dia has moved slowly on op­por­tu­ni­ties in Iran in the past, in­clud­ing the gi­ant Farzad B gas field.

An­sari said, In­dia was the first pri­or­ity to de­velop Farzad B, but urged New Delhi to move fast, if they drag their feet, the mar­ket will not wait.

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