NEW DELHI: Underlining the deep and ancient cultural and historical ties between the two nations, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran presented Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an animated version of Kalila Wa Demna (Farsi translation of the Panchtantra) and a copy of the Mahabharata in Farsi before they began delegation-level talks in New Delhi on Saturday.
Rouhani, accompanied by a 21-member delegation of senior officials and businessmen, arrived in New Delhi late on Friday after a two-day stay in Hyderabad, where he interacted with Muslim leaders and scholars, visited historical sites and attended Friday prayers at the Makkah Masjid. Making a strong pitch for Muslim unity, he told the gathering that outsiders were responsible for the rift between various Muslim sects and the scourge of radical Islam.
In New Delhi, after the traditional welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan and the wreath laying ceremony at Rajghat, Rouhani and Modi, flanked by senior aides, held a two-hour-long discussion on issues ranging from connectivity, energy, trade and investment and terrorism to the prevailing regional and international situations.
They then oversaw the exchange of nine MoUs—four other agreements between Iranian and Indian trade bodies were signed on the sidelines—before addressing a press conference.
The MoUs included visa liberalization for diplomats and businessmen; an 18-month lease of phase I of the jointly built Chabahar port, which gives India road and rail access to neighbouring Afghanistan and upwards into the resource-rich Central Asian States; panels to look at avoiding dual taxation and examine the possibility of a rupee-rial arrangement, which would allow India to invest in Iran using Indian rupees, which Iran could in turn use for Indian investments.