India, Iran discuss Afghan; to expand eco ties
Unfazed by the recent sanctions against Tehran, India and Iran Thursday held talks to rejuvenate economic ties and agreed to cooperate closely in stabilising Afghanistan through enhanced counter-terror cooperation.
New Delhi: Unfazed by the recent sanctions against Tehran, India and Iran Thursday held talks to rejuvenate economic ties and agreed to cooperate closely in stabilising Afghanistan through enhanced counter-terror cooperation.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Iran’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini held wide-ranging talks at their joint commission meeting, which was held here after a gap of 16 months.
The meeting will continue Friday and culminate in the signing of a clutch of agreements that are expected to give fresh momentum to their economic and energy ties.
Hosseini, who began his three-day visit to India Wednesday, met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and discussed issues relating to double taxation avoidance treaty and bilateral investment pact that could give a fillip to trade and investment and infuse new life into languishing ties.
The situation in Afghanistan figured prominently in the discussions with both sides expressing their common stakes in the stability of the violence-torn country, reliable sources said. The Indian side pressed for "structured and regular consultations" with Iran on defeating terrorists in Afghanistan and in the region.
Hosseini also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday evening and is understood to have discussed Tehran`s keenness to cooperate with New Delhi in helping stabilise Afghanistan in the wake of the ongoing West-backed reconciliation moves with the Taliban.
The Iranian side agreed to step up the pace of work at Chabahhar port that will provide Indian goods an alternative access route to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan, said the sources.
The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline came up during the talks, but a breakthrough proved elusive as New Delhi reiterated its concerns over pricing and security issues.
Striking an upbeat note, the visiting Iranian minister pitched for doubling bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2015 and offered to sign an investment protection treaty with India and suggested doubling the bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2015.
Speaking at a seminar on investment opportunities in Iran, Hosseini hoped the two-day meeting meeting would help to "remove all barriers to two-way trade and facilitate the flow of investments".
He invited Indian firms to invest in mining, pharmaceuticals, transportation, automotive, textiles and agriculture sectors.
The government was planning disinvestment in several major firms like refineries and power plants, which could be a golden opportunity for Indian corporate groups to invest in Iran, he added.
Behrouz Alishiri, deputy minister for economic affairs and finance, said the Iranian delegation had brought 50-60 projects in several sectors for possible joint ventures.
The Iranian side thanked India for taking a forthright stand on the US sanctions. Ahead of the talks, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had said at a seminar that India has always advocated diplomacy to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue and stressed that it should be resolved within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Rao also voiced India`s apprehensions that such "unilateral sanctions" can have "a direct and adverse impact" on India`s energy security.