NEW DELHI: With Iran set to emerge from the sanctions regime next month, India is hoping to quickly take advantage of opportunities in the energy and rail sector, even as Tehran invited private sector involvement in the strategic Chahbahar port.
The 18th India-Iran joint commission held on Monday was crucial to set the roadmap and give a political filip for cooperation. The Iranian delegation was led by the Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Taiebnia, while External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj led the Indian side.Taiebnia also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who “reiterated the keen desire of India to expand its economic cooperation with Iran”.
With India keen to expand its footprint in Afghanistan, development of Chahbahar port was a major focus of the conversation at the meeting. As per the government press note, Swaraj “stressed that connectivity afforded by Indian participation in Chahbahar Port will facilitate linking Afghanistan and Central Asia with India”.
Reflecting the realities of post-sanctions economy, Iran also specifically sought out participation of Indian private sector in development of the Chahbahar port, Chahbahar free trade zone, as well as industrial units in FTZ. Indian public sector had been interested in renewing its links with Iran, but the encouragement to the private sector is a reflection of the changes being wrought in the geoeconomic field by the Iran nuclear deal.
Chahbahar is highly important for India’s Afghan policy, as it will help to increase trade ties, as Pakistan remains unwilling to give transit rights to New Delhi.
Swaraj also brought up the issue of the Farzad-B gas field, where India is hoping to reinstate its claim. “EAM emphasised the need for early completion of all necessary procedures for India’s participation in Farzad-B field and pointed out India’s desire to participate in other oil and gas explorations in Iran,” said the statement.