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Official Spokesperson's response to a question on the visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister

August 14, 2015

In response to a question on the visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister, Official Spokesperson said:

"The Foreign Minister of Iran Mr. Javad Zarif arrived in New Delhi last night.

Today, he called on Vice President and the Prime Minister. He met the Shipping and Transport Minister Mr. Nitin Gadkari. He had wide-ranging discussions with the External Affairs Minister, who also hosted a lunch for him.

The visit of the Foreign Minister was a follow up to the discussions between PM and President Rouhani at Ufa where both sides agreed to significantly upgrade the bilateral relationship, particularly its economic dimension. During her talks with FM Zarif, External Affairs Minister made several forward-looking proposals that will lay the foundation for realizing this vision. Her proposals included a revamp of the manner in which the Joint Commission will function so that the focus is on energy, infrastructure and trade.

On Energy, the aim is to move from the existing buyer seller relationship to a genuine energy partnership involving both upstream and downstream. We want Iran to regain its share of India’s oil imports and we expect Iran to also make efforts to help promote participation of Indian companies.

In this context there was a discussion on Farzad B. An Indian company (OVL) had successfully discovered the field and it is our expectation that it will get the opportunity to develop it.

Connectivity is also an important part of the economic relationship. We are at an advanced stage in two ongoing projects related to Chahbahar and the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

On Chahbahar, we now have to operationalize the intergovernmental MoU signed by Minister Gadkari in May.

On INSTC, both sides acknowledged the need to speed up the process. In fact the Ministerial Council meeting of the INSTC is taking place in New Delhi on August 21.

There was a discussion on India participating in the Iranian railways sector, where we are both price and technology competitive.

To enhance the trade relationship, EAM extended an invitation to the Iranian Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance Mr. Ali Tayebnia to visit India for the next Joint Commission Meeting which will be held in December. Proposals were also made to move ahead rapidly on a Preferential Trading Agreement, and a Business-to-Business platform.

There were also discussions on regional and multilateral issues, in particular the threat posed by ISIS, and the situation in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.

Earlier, during his call on Prime Minister, FM Zarif reiterated the invitation from President Rouhani for Prime Minister to visit Iran.

The issue of the nine Indian sailors detained in Iran was also raised by EAM. She requested FM Zarif for waiver of the 2.9M USD fine imposed on them and for their early release. She has advised our Ambassador designate to Iran Mr Saurabh Kumar to follow this up on priority and secure their release at the earliest.

All in all, FM Zarif’s visit will provide a significant fillip to the strengthening of our long standing ties with Iran."

New Delhi
August 14, 2015

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