India-Iran ‘dosti’ as old as history: Modi

Tehran, May 23 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday described India-Iran friendship as “as old as history” after the two sides signed 12 agreements, including three on development of the Chabahar port in this Persian Gulf nation for enhanced connectivity.

“India and Iran are not new friends. Our dosti is as old as history,” Modi said at a joint media conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

“Through centuries, our societies have stayed connected through art and architecture, ideas and traditions, and culture and commerce,” he said.

The prime minister pointed out that Iran was among the first countries to come forward in support after the 2001 Gujarat earthquake.

“Similarly, India is proud to have stood with the people of Iran during your difficult times,” he said.

Stating that he was impressed by Rouhani’s leadership and the clarity of vision, Modi said that Monday’s talks between the two countries focused on the full range of bilateral engagement.

“We exchanged views on the emerging regional situation and global issues of common concern,” he said.

“The agenda and scope of our partnership is truly substantial. The outcomes and agreements signed today open a new chapter in our strategic partnership.”

Modi also said that the welfare of the people of the two countries was guiding the broad-based economic ties.

“Expanded trade ties, deeper connectivity, including railways, partnerships in oil and gas sector, fertilisers, education and cultural sphere are driving our overall economic engagement,” he stated.

“The bilateral agreement to develop the Chahbahar port and related infrastructure, and availability of about $500 million from India for this purpose, is an important milestone. This major effort would boost economic growth in the region.”

Modi said that he was looking forward to signing of the trilateral transport and transit agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan later on Monday.

“It will open new routes for India, Iran and Afghanistan to connect among themselves,” he aid.

The prime miniuster also said that India and Iran shared a crucial stake in peace, stability and prosperity of the region.

“We also have shared concerns at the spread of forces of instability, radicalism and terror in our region,” he said.

“We have agreed to consult closely and regularly on combating threats of terrorism, radicalism, drug trafficking and cyber crime. We have also agreed to enhance interaction between our defence and security institutions on regional and maritime security.”

Modi promised that he and Rouhani would spare no effort to work for the glorious future of the ties between India and Iran.

On his part, Rouhani said that Iran always attached great importance to its relationship with India.

“The economic relationship and cooperation between the two countries will become much bigger,” he said.

“The relationship will go beyond mere trade relationship. When we are talking of economic relationship, we are talking of Iran and the surrounding countries with a population of 400 million and india with a population of one billion.”

Connectivity, energy security and bilateral trade are on top of Modi’s agenda during his two-day visit which comes a little over a month-and-a-half after his trip to Saudi Arabia.

The prime minister, who arrived here on Sunday evening and offered prayers at a gurudwara, will also inaugurate an Indian cultural festival in Iran on Monday.

Modi will also hold talks with the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei.

The prime minister’s visit comes four months after the sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme were lifted and the international community is re-engaging with the nation.



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