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PM Modi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to hold talks today

Rouhani and PM Modi are expected to hold talks on a host of issues including trade, security and connectivity, and the strategically-important Chabahar port.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who arrived in Hyderabad for a three-day India trip, will hold parleys with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi Saturday, PTI reported.

According to the report, issues related to trade, security and connectivity, including the strategically-important Chabahar port will be discussed.

The two sides are also looking at inking a number of pacts in several key areas apart from exploring the scope of cooperation in fields such as health and traditional medicine during the visit, which is part of India’s continued regional engagement, the news agency reported quoting its official sources.

Officials also referred to Modi’s recent visit to the UAE and other countries in the Gulf and West Asia, to highlight India’s growing cooperation with countries in the region.

Iran and India have already operationalised a mechanism under which Indian businessmen can invest in projects in Iran in Indian rupees, the sources said. The move is expected to boost Indo-Iran trade ties tremendously.

While there was no pact expected to be signed on security cooperation, the joint statement will talk about the engagement between the two countries in that area, including the interactions between their national security councils, the sources said.

Asked if cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan will be raised, the sources said terrorism is a shared concern but whether any specific country will be mentioned, could not be stated. Also, whether India will seek Iran’s help in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case given that it maintains that the retired Indian naval officer was kidnapped from Iran, the sources said Jadhav is not a bilateral issue between India and Iran.

Asked if India would raise the issue of its investment in Iran’s Farzad-B gas field, the sources said there were commercial discussions on to find a “win-win” solution.

Asserting that connectivity is among the key themes, they said efforts would be to take forward the operational part of the strategically-important Chabahar port. During Modi’s bilateral visit to Iran in 2016, nearly a dozen pacts were signed between the two countries.

The Trilateral Transit Agreement (Chabahar Agreement) was also signed by transport ministers of India, Iran and Afghanistan in the presence of Modi, Rouhani and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The contract entails capital investment of USD 85 million by India for equipping Chabahar port in southeastern Iran. The strategically important port will open up the transit route for India to Iran and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

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