Rohani, Modi reaffirm support for stable Afghanistan

Iranian Prez Rouhani prays for Shia Sunni unity at Makkah Masjid

Rouhani arrived in India on Thursday for a three-day official visit at the invitation of Modi. He is the first Iranian President to have visited the Mecca Masjid.

Addressing a joint press event with Rouhani, Modi said the visit by the Iranian president shows how the two sides want to deepen cooperation in key areas, including connectivity. He said, Iran and India can conciliate benefits from this mutual cooperation. As part of this effort, Indology courses will be made available for Iranian diplomats by the Foreign Service Institute of India while support will be provided for Persian language courses in India.

Later, Rouhani-Modi duo unveiled a postal stamp marking India-Iran relations.

Modi said that Chabahar Port offered "a golden gateway" for landlocked Afghanistan.

Modi appreciated the way the Iranian president provided leadership in developing strategically-important Chabahar Port.

"We also had a great deal of discussion today on facilitating economic relations, preferential trade tariffs, better banking relations, visa relations and facilitating travel between the two countries for business purposes", he said.

After independence from Britain in August 1947, India and Iran briefly became neighbors with hundreds of kilometers of shared borders. The two also issued a joint postal stamp.

Maritime agreement on Chabahar Port and document on Shahid Beheshti port.

"Today, we are witnessing the development of Chabahar Port and a momentum in the construction of Chabahar railway to Zahedan with India's investment", Rouhani said.

They also chose to hold the Festival of India in Iran in 2018-19, establish a chair of Indian studies in Tehran University, organise Indology courses for Iranian diplomats and support Persian language courses in India.

Both sides deliberated extensively on intensifying cooperation in the oil sector and agreed to move beyond traditional "buyer-seller" relationship and develop it into a long-term strategic partnership. "We are sure that participation will be equal from both sides", he said.

New Delhi is keen that the gas from the field comes to India to feed the vast energy needs and, therefore, OVL in its United States dollars 11 billion master development plan (MDP) proposed drilling wells in Persian Gulf to produce gas, transport it to onshore via sub-sea pipeline and build a plant to liquefy the gas (LNG) for transportation in ships.

Ahead of Rouhani's arrival in New Delhi, a delegation from the National Iranian Oil Company had held crunch talks with Indian authorities to see whether an agreement could be struck.

New Delhi has allowed investment in Indian rupees in Iran.

According to Mittal, there was unanimity of views between India and Iran on the need to condemn terrorism in all its manifestations and that sanctuaries for terrorism must be destroyed. During the talks, Rouhani said "promotion of cooperation between Iran and India on regional issues could strengthen the pillars of stability and security across the region".

The two sides are now determined to protect and even broaden the scope of such historical relations, President Rouhani said.

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