Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Visit India This Week
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Feb. 17.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will reach India on Feb. 15 on a three-day visit at the official invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA. He will meet Modi on Feb. 17 and also deliver a special address at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), the Hindustan Times reported. This will mark Rouhani’s first visit to India after taking up the presidential position in August 2013.
Rouhani is expected to discuss the latest regional and global developments as well as the operation of the Chabahar port since the port is important for maximizing bilateral trade in the region. India, Iran and Afghanistan had signed the Trilateral Agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor at Chabahar to develop the port as a transport and transit corridor between the three nations.
The Iranian President will offer Friday prayers at the historic Makkah Masjid in Hyderabad and also address a gathering there, officials said, according to IANS.
Rouhani’s visit will take place soon after Modi returns from a tour of Palestine, United Arab Emirates and Oman, where India signed multiple agreements. The visit also comes a month after the Arab nation underwent violent anti-government protests in which 25 people were killed. Hundreds of people were arrested across the country in January for protesting against the weak economy and corruption in the country.
India and Iran have been seeking to strengthen bilateral ties. Modi was given a grand welcome in Iran in May 2016. His tour marked the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in 15 years. India then signed a deal with Iran to develop its Chabahar Port, which gives New Delhi access to trade with Afghanistan without going through Pakistan-controlled regions. The $500 million agreement also included a rail link to Zahedan. Apart from connectivity through water, air and land connectivity was also improved between. India also increased its oil imports from Iran.
India had also welcomed Rouhani’s victory in elections in Iran in May 2017.
Meanwhile, India and Iran have been embroiled in a disagreement regarding the Farzad B gas field. The Indian consortium — comprising ONGC Videsh, Indian Oil Corporation, and Oil India — discovered gas reserves in Iran under an exploration contract signed in 2002; it expired in 2009. The field holds about 19 trillion cubic feet of gas. India has been trying to renew the contract but the response has been uncertain, leaving the future of the contract unclear as well. India has since invested in Russia and Israel to discover offshore gas.