Economy, Domestic Economy

Rouhani, India Minister Discuss Railroad Coop.

Rouhani, India Minister Discuss Railroad Coop.Rouhani, India Minister Discuss Railroad Coop.

President Hassan Rouhani says that Indian investment in the Port of Chabahar will open a new chapter in Tehran-Delhi trade ties, IRNA reported.

He made the remarks while receiving Indian Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari in Tehran on Wednesday.

“We welcome India’s investment in developing the Port of Chabahar and other ports located in the southern part of our country as well as in building roads and railways across the country,” President Rouhani said.

The Port of Chabahar is a seaport in southeastern Iran. It lies on the border of the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman. It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.

The port was partially built by India in the 1990s to provide access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.

Located 72 kilometers west of Pakistan’s Gwadar port, the port holds immense strategic and economic significance for India. Chabahar and Gwadar ports are located in a common coast and they are 70 kilometers away from one another.

Referring to what he called “Iran’s unique transit capacities”; President Rouhani said Iran can play a very effective role in linking India’s railway network with Central Asia, Caucasus and Eastern Europe.

He added that Tehran and New Delhi share “numerous common interests” and can have extensive cooperation on many political and international issues.

“Both countries are also sharing membership in many influential regional organizations and treaties. We can collaborate to put an end to extremism and terrorism and ongoing wars in the region,” President Rouhani said.

The Indian minister, for his part, said that India is eager to actively participate in developing Iranian ports, roads and railway network.

“Developing Chabahar can help promote trade ties between the two countries,” Gadkari said.

India and Iran agreed in 2003 to develop the Port of Chabahar, but the venture made little progress due to sanctions imposed on Iran by the West over Iran’s nuclear activities.

Now amid growing prospects of a nuclear deal between the world powers and Tehran by June 30, after which sanctions are expected to be lifted, India is trying to rush into the Iranian market, fearing that it might be overtake by other rivals from the West and China, that has maintained strong trade ties with Iran despite pressure from the West.

India recently sent a delegation to Iran in an attempt to secure trade, energy and infrastructure deals, despite warning from the US against any deal with Iran ahead of a nuclear deal.

“We don’t want to miss this opportunity and will move as expeditiously as possible,” an official in India’s Shipping Ministry, who declined to be identified, told news sources recently.

Khalid Khan, the regional head of the Federation of Indian Export Organization, also said recently that Indian exporters want to use Chabahar Free Trade Zone to increase exports to the Commonwealth of Independence States (CIS).