New Delhi: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Friday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi who affirmed India's commitment to work with Tehran for development of Chabahar Port that is expected to have far reaching benefit for India, Iran and the entire Central Asian region.
India has pledged to invest about USD 85 million in developing the strategic port, located on Iran's southeastern coast, which would provide India a sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.
During the meeting, Zarif, the first key minister of Iran to come here after the historic nuclear pact between Tehran with the Western countries in July which will lead to lifting of sanctions, said Iran considered India its "strategic partner".
Zarif, who arrived here last night, also held talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj, who raised the issue of nine Indian sailors detained in Iran and requested him for waiver of USD 2.9 million fine imposed on them and for their early release.
After her meeting with Zarif, Swaraj tweeted,"I had a good meeting with Foreign Minister of Iran. I raised the issue of nine Indian sailors detained in Iran. I requested him for waiver of USD 2.9 million fine imposed on them and for their early release.
"I have advised our Ambassador designate to Iran Mr Saurabh Kumar to follow this up on priority and secure their release at the earliest."
These Indians, who were part of a shipping crew, have been in a jail in Iran for two years on charges of smuggling oil. They have been asked to pay a fine of USD 2.9 million for securing their release.
Recalling his meeting with President Hassan Rouhani in Ufa last month, Modi reiterated that India attached high priority to its relations with Iran. During his meeting with Modi, Rouhani had sought Indian investments of nearly USD eight billion in infrastructure sector in Iran.
The Prime Minister also congratulated Iran for reaching an agreement with P5+1 countries and expressed confidence that it would contribute to greater peace and stability in the region. Zarif is first key minister of Iran to come here after the historic nuclear pact between Tehran with the Western countries in July which will lead to lifting of sanctions.
Modi "conveyed India's commitment to work with Iran for development of the Chabahar Port that would have far reaching benefit, not only for the people of India and Iran, but also for Afghanistan and the entire Central Asia region," a PMO statement said.
Zarif said Iran considered India its "strategic partner and cannot forget the support India extended to Iran during its difficult times", it added.
Zarif also met Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, who had visited Tehran in May when the two inked an agreement to develop Chabahar port, located on Iran's southeastern coast. The strategically important port would provide India a sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. Iran looked forward to working closely in all areas,
including connectivity, oil and gas, investments, fertilizers, infrastructure development, among others, Zarif said during his meeting with Modi.
They exchanged views on the regional developments, including in Afghanistan, West Asia and South Asia, the PMO statement said.
Zarif extended invitation on behalf of the President of Iran to Modi to visit Iran. Prime Minister agreed to visit Iran at mutually convenient dates to be decided through diplomatic channels, it said.
Meanwhile, Swaraj said she also met the family of Sushil Kapoor, who is one of the Indian prisoners in Iranian jail, and apprised them of her meeting with Zarif.