Modi arrives in Iran; aims to boost economic, cultural ties

Tehran: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today arrived in Iran on a two-day visit, which will see India and the Persian Gulf nation working on enhancing economic partnership that includes a possible deal on developing the strategic Chabahar port.

“Reached Iran, a land with whom India shares civilisational ties. Hope to enhance economic partnership between our nations. I also hope my Iran visit further cements cultural and people-to-people ties between India and Iran,” Modi tweeted.

The first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Islamic nation in the last 15 years, Modi was received at the Mehrabad International Airport here by Iran’s Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Ali Tayyebnia, after which he left for a local Gurudwara to meet people of Indian origin here.

Formal talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are scheduled for tomorrow morning after a ceremonial welcome for the Prime Minister. Rouhani will also host a lunch for him.

Modi will also call on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well before his return.

Ahead of his arrival, Modi in a series of tweets said, “Enhancing connectivity, trade, investments, energy partnership, culture and people to people contacts would be our priority.”

“My meetings with President Rouhani and Hon’ble Supreme Leader of Iran will provide an opportunity to advance our strategic partnership,” the Prime Minister added.

Besides signing a deal on development of Phase-1 of the Chabahar port, India is looking at doubling oil imports from the Persian Gulf nation, which a few years back was its second-biggest oil supplier, as well as making progress on getting rights to develop a giant gas field in the energy-rich country.

India’s Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari will also be present there for the signing of the agreement on Chabahar port.

Post-sanctions Iran has seen a flurry of diplomatic and business activities with leaders from China to Korea courting Tehran.

In the run-up to Modi’s visit, Transport Minister Gadkari, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had visited Tehran.

Stating that he looked forward to the conclusion of the Chahbahar agreement during his visit, the Prime Minister said “India and Iran enjoy civilisational ties and have shared interest in the peace, security, stability and prosperity of the region.