Jawad Zarif, Iranian foreign minister
IN A first ministerial trip to New Delhi after Iran struck a nuclear deal, its Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif will visit India from August 13 during which he will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hold talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.
Zarif will also hold talks with Nitin Gadkari, who visited Tehran in May when the countries signed 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.
The visit assumes significance as it will be first trip by a key minister of Iran after it reached the historic pact on its contentious nuclear programme with the Western countries in July. The deal will lead to lifting of sanctions hampering Iranian economy.
It also comes in the backdrop of Iran inviting Indian investments of about $8bn in infrastructure projects there.
During his meeting with Modi in Ufa, Russia, earlier this month on the sidelines of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Summit, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had offered India a bigger role in its strategic infrastructure projects including ports, railroads and highways and sought investments to the tune of $8bn, Iranian Ambassador to India Gholamreza Ansari had told reporters in an interview.
Asserting that Iran has been a “reliable partner”, he said India should take advantage of the time before the western countries start making their investments after lifting of sanctions in the next three-five months.
He also said Modi government’s focus is on connectivity which coincides with Iran’s government policy and therefore Iran has asked India to get into major projects like building strategic ports like Chabahar, constructing big highways and railroads.