NEW DELHI: Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif reached here on Thursday evening to hold talks with the Indian leadership, the focus being on the work at the strategic Chabahar Port in Iran. And the visit by the Iranian leader assumes added significance since it comes in the wake of Teheran signing the historic nuclear deal with world powers.
He is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday morning. Later, he will meet his counterpart Ajit Doval, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who had earlier been India’s Ambassador to Iran.
Zarif will also meet Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, who had recently visited Iran and signed an MoU that allows Indian and Iranian commercial entities to begin talks towards finalising commercial contracts.
That final agreement will let Indian firms lease the two berths at the Chabahar Port and operationalise them as container and multipurpose cargo terminals.
India is also interested in participating in building road and rail networks which will link Chabahar to Afghanistan as well as to central Asia.
Modi had met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting at Ufa in Russia last month.
During the meeting, Modi had raised the issue of India’s participation in the Chabahar port and the Chahbahar-Zahidan railway line, which runs up to the Afghan border.
With the eventual lifting of sanctions as per the nuclear deal, India is also interested in increasing the share of Iranian oil in its fuel basket, with long-term investments in the supply of oil and gas from the country. New Delhi also wants Teheran to award the Farzad B offshore gas field to ONGC.
Zarif’s visit coincides with crucial developments in Afghanistan, where Iran is a low-profile but highly influential player.
Zarif arrived here straight from his one-day visit to Pakistan, where he had endorsed the reconciliation talks between Kabul and Taliban. New Delhi would be interested to learn more about his talks with Islamabad on the issue.