India, Iran closer to Chabahar deal after Sushma Swaraj’s visit
\Energy returned to the top of the engagement between India and Iran after two quick visits, by oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, taking forward the progress on the Chabahar port and India’s equity stake in Farzad-B gas field.
In talks between Swaraj and her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, the two sides agreed that pending deals such as Preferential Trade Agreement, Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and Bilateral Investment Treaty should be concluded on a priority basis to spur trade and investment.
“The talks will give new energy to our centuries old ties with Iran. In particular, the economic partnership will get considerable fillip as a result of today’s forward looking talks,” foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. According to Swarup, there was no conversation between the two sides on purported Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was arrested by Pakistan in March.
On Chabahar project, it was agreed that contract as well as modalities for extending $150 million credit for the port should be signed soon.
Decisions on this line of credit, as well as $400 million credit line for supply of steel rails from India have already been taken by the Centre.
Besides, Iran also called for greater Indian participation in its oil and gas sector. “Iran said it would be happy to participate in the refinery sector in India,” he said.
On Farzad-B oil field project, both sides took note of the constructive discussions held during the recent visit to Iran of oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan. “The Indian side welcomed the Iranian decision to keep the Farzad-B field outside the auction basket. The concerned companies have been directed to complete their contractual negotiations in a time-bound manner. Iranian side had earlier communicated their gas pricing formula and expressed their desire for Indian investment in the Chabahar SEZ,” Swarup said.
“In terms of connectivity, Iran said it supported India’s desire to join the Ashgabat Agreement. The two ministers reviewed the progress made in the International North South Transport Corridor. IRCON from India will be visiting Iran for discussions on the Chabahar-Zahedan railway link.”
India is keen to increase oil imports from Iran from the current 3,50,000 barrels a day. Both sides decided to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism and maritime security as they agreed that concerted global effort was required to combat the menace. They reviewed bilateral relations, in particular the progress in implementing the decisions taken at the last joint commission meeting in December 2015. “Both sides took note of the good cooperation between the National Security Council structures and agreed to intensify this engagement,” Swarup said.