India, Iran decide to give major push to their bilateral ties
Tehran: India and Iran Saturday decided to give a major push to their bilateral ties in all aspects including connectivity for which New Delhi will participate in the upgradation of strategically crucial Chahbahar port.
During a meeting between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi under the framework of Joint Commission, the two sides agreed to work on a trilateral transit agreement involving India, Iran and Afghanistan.
But it was underlined that the work on the draft agreement should be started soon.
The two sides also discussed ways to enhance trade relations and people to people contact, regarding which the need was felt for liberalising the visa regime.
At the meeting, Khurshid conveyed India's decision to participate in the upgradation of Chahbahar port. He informed the Iranian side that the Indian government has given in-principle nod to this project.
As a follow up, India's Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, will travel to Tehran for negotiations on cost and other aspects.
The Iranian side underlined that the project is important not only for Iran and Afghanistan but for entire central Asia.
The two sides also reviewed the progress on the proposed North-South corridor which will link Russia with Iran, with Khurshid saying that any obstructions or any hurdles should be resolved.
Iran's controversial nuclear programme also came up for discussions and Salehi informed that talks with P5+1 will start in this year.
Salehi gave a detailed briefing on the subject to Khurshid who was appreciative of the decision to resume talks.
The two sides felt that the level of trade was not reflective of the close relations between the two countries and should be enhanced.
In this regard, agriculture and pharma products and aeronautics were among the areas identified where cooperation could be increased.
The two sides reiterated importance of enhancing cooperation in expanding trade and banking relations and agreed to study the prospects of joint investment in both countries.
India and Iran, while noting their capabilities in the industrial sector, agreed to diversify their cooperation in this regard.
On Afghanistan, the two countries discussed the developing situation in Afghanistan and agreed to remain in regular contact.
Iran and India expressed deep concern on the continuing and unabated violence in Syria and called upon all sides in the Arab country to abjure violence and resolve all issues peacefully through discussions taking into account the aspirations of its people.
In this regard, the two sides supported the Geneva Communique which includes the 6-Point Plan of Kofi Annan and welcomed the efforts of Joint Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.
The sides also signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), including one on water resources management.
Khurshid also inaugurated the Indian Cultural Centre in Tehran yesterday.
Khurshid also called on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and had meetings with Ali Akbar Velayati, Advisor to the Supreme Leader and Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Iranian Majlis.