India, Iran discuss boosting economic cooperation, connectivity

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New Delhi, July 16 (IANS) India and Iran on Monday discussed strengthening economic cooperation and enhancing connectivity during a delegation-level meeting between Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araghchi here.

The meeting was held amid speculations about the fallout of US sanctions on imports of petroleum products from Iran.

According to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry, both sides “reviewed and positively assessed” the progress in implementation of decisions taken during the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to India in February this year, “especially for enhancing connectivity and strengthening cooperation in trade and economic issues and in the promotion of people-to-people exchanges”.

During Rouhani’s visit, the two countries broad-based their relationship by signing nine agreements, including one on connectivity relating to the strategic Chabahar port.

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“Views were also exchanged on regional and international issues of mutual interest, including the efforts being made by various parties to address issues that have arisen over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” Monday’s External Affairs Ministry statement said without getting into details.

“It was agreed to maintain the momentum of mutually beneficial multifaceted bilateral cooperation and exchanges between the two sides and to hold the next round of Joint Commission Meeting at the level of External Affairs Minister in November 2018 in Iran,” it added.

Earlier this year, the US withdrew from the nuclear deal signed in 2015 between Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 group (five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany) and reinforced sanctions on the West Asian nation.

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India has made it clear that it does not recognise country-specific sanctions.

Iran is the second largest supplier of crude oil to India, supplying more than 425,000 barrels of oil per day, and India is one of the biggest foreign investors in Iran’s oil and gas industry.

India, along with Iran and Afghanistan, are jointly developing the strategic Chabahar port in the southeastern coast of Iran that will give access to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.

–IANS

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