India and Iran on Monday decided to jointly combat terror, radicalism and cyber crime as the two strategic partners signed 12 agreements including a “milestone” pact on developing the key Chabahar port for which India will provide $500 million.
“We have agreed to consult closely and regularly on combating threats of terrorism, radicalism, drug trafficking and cyber crime,” Modi said while addressing a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after the two held one-on-one talks.
Besides developing the Chabahar port, the two sides also singed agreements in diverse fields like trade credit, culture, science and technology and railways.
“The bilateral agreement to develop the Chabahar port and related infrastructure, and availability of about $500 million from India for this purpose, is an important milestone,” said Modi.
“This major effort would boost economic growth in the region. We are committed to take steps for early implementation of the agreements signed today,” he said.
Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Iran’s southern coast, is of great strategic utility for India. It lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan.
India and Iran had in 2003 agreed to develop Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman outside the Strait of Hormuz, near Iran’s border with Pakistan.
India and Iran have also agreed to enhance interaction between their defence and security institutions on regional and maritime security, said Modi, who is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the important energy-rich Persian Gulf nation after a gap of 15 years.
Terming the “dosti” (friendship) between India and Iran as old as history, he said “through centuries, our societies have stayed connected through art and architecture, ideas and traditions, and culture and commerce.”
Iran was among the first countries to come forward in support when earthquake struck Gujarat in 2001, said Modi who was the then chief minister of the state.
Describing the agenda and scope of partnership as truly substantial, Modi said, “the outcomes and agreements signed today open a new chapter in our strategic partnership... Expanded trade ties, deeper connectivity, including railways, partnerships in oil and gas sector, fertilizers, education and cultural sphere are driving our overall economic engagement.”
Talking about a trilateral Transport and Transit Agreement with participation of Iran, Modi said, “It will open new routes for India, Iran and Afghanistan to connect among themselves. India and Iran also share a crucial stake in peace, stability and prosperity of the region.”
Inviting President Rouhani to visit India, Modi said, he would look forward to strengthen the engagement between the two countries.
In this regard he quoted a couplet from legendary poet Ghalib, “Once we make up our mind, the distance between Kaashi and Kaashan is only half a step.”
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Iran comes months after lifting of international sanctions on Iran following Tehran’s historic nuclear deal with the Western powers over its contentious atomic programme.
Modi had earlier said the lifting of sanctions had opened up immense opportunities and India was looking to expand cooperation with the Persian Gulf nation in sectors such as trade, investment, infrastructure and energy.
“India and Iran have always focused to add strength to our relations, even during the difficult times. In the current context, both countries can look to expand our cooperation in the fields of trade, technology, investment and infrastructure and energy security,” he had told Iran’s IRNA news agency.
Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to travel to Iran in 15 years on a bilateral visit after Atal Bihari Vajpayee, arrived in Iran on Sunday and offered obeisance at the Bhai Ganga Singh Sabha Gurudwara in Tehran.