NEW DELHI – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani met on Saturday with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi to discuss bilateral cooperation in matters of communication and trade, as well as security in Afghanistan and the region, marking the first official visit by an Iranian head of state to the Indian capital in 10 years.
Modi and Rouhani started the visit with the signing of a series of memorandums of understanding and other agreements between the two nations, including the elimination of double taxation and a cooperation process in the development of the strategic southeastern Iranian port of Chabahar.
“I traveled to Tehran in 2016 and now when you come here, it deepens and strengthens our relationship,” Modi said in a joint press conference with Rouhani, who in turn thanked Modi’s leadership in the development process of Port Chabahar, which will have an Indian operator.
Located in the Gulf of Oman, it is the only ocean port in Iran and serves as a gateway to Afghanistan, which both leaders agreed was a strategic country for the two nations.
“The two countries want to see our neighbor Afghanistan safe and prosper. We want to see our neighbors free of terrorism,” said Modi who, as part of his intense international agenda, also traveled a week ago to Palestine on an official visit.
Rouhani said that both countries have agreed to cooperate in this regard and that regional conflicts must be resolved by diplomatic and political means.
Rouhani – the first Iranian president to visit India since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did so in April 2008 – also called for greater cooperation in the energy sector and for the promotion of investments to encourage commercial activity.
Iran and India signed an exemption from double taxation, a visa exemption for diplomats, the ratification of an extradition treaty (which was signed in 2008 but had yet to be ratified), and various instruments to collaborate in matters of health, traditional medicine and agriculture.
The Joint Secretary of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India affairs of India’s foreign ministry, Deepak Mittal, said in a press conference that both countries had also discussed the possibility of facilitating banking cooperation.
In addition, the two leaders discussed terrorism at the international level and security in the region, agreeing on the need to reject the activities of terrorist groups of any kind.