New Delhi: India and Iran discussed the development of the Chabahar Port and exchanged views on regional and international issues including Afghanistan as both sides held delegation-level talks.
Taking to Twitter, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "India and Iran held Foreign Office Consultations today, led by Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra and Deputy FM Ali Bagheri Kani of Iran. Both sides discussed bilateral relations, including the development of Chabahar Port. Also discussed regional & international issues of mutual interest." Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra led the Indian delegation while the Iranian delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri Kani, according to the statement released by MEA.
During the delegation-level talks, both sides discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations including political, economic, cultural, and consular engagement. The two sides reiterated their commitment to continue cooperation for the development of the Shahid Beheshti terminal of the Chabahar Port.
Both countries exchanged views on regional and international issues including Afghanistan. The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister briefed the Foreign Secretary on issues related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the statement reads.
During the visit, Iran's Ali Bagheri met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday and discussed bilateral cooperation and the JCPOA.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is also known as the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.
India-Iran relations span millennia marked by meaningful interactions. Since the diplomatic relationship has been established in 1950 with the friendship treaty, the visits on the ministerial level have increased.
Earlier, in September, Iranian Foreign Minister H Amirabdollahian spoke to Jaishankar.
The two countries have in place several bilateral consultative mechanisms at various levels which meet regularly. These include the Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) chaired at the Ministerial level, the Foreign Office Consultations chaired at the Foreign Secretary level, and the Joint Consular Committee Meeting at the level of Joint Secretary/DG.
India-Iran commercial ties were traditionally dominated by the Indian import of Iranian crude oil. In 2018-19 India imported USD 12.11 billion worth of crude oil from Iran. However, following the end of the Significant Reduction Exemption (SRE) period on May 2, 2019, India has suspended importing crude from Iran. The bilateral trade during 2019-20 was USD 4.77 billion, a decrease of 71.99 per cent as compared to the trade of USD 17.03 billion from 2018-19.
What is significant is that Indian exports to Iran between 2011-12 and 2019-20 have grown by 45.60 per cent. India's major exports to Iran include rice, tea, sugar, soya, medicines/pharmaceuticals, man-made staple fibers, electrical machinery, etc.
Major imports from Iran include inorganic/organic chemicals, fertilizers, cement clinkers, fruits and nuts, leather, etc. Both countries are negotiating a Preferential Trade Agreement, on which five rounds of talks have been held so far.
India is developing the 1st phase of Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar. The capacity of the port will reach 8.5 MT at the end of the first phase. During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Tehran in May 2016, the contract on the Shahid Beheshti port of Chabahar was signed which, inter-alia, comprises an investment of USD 85 million for procuring equipment for the port.