1204 GMT March 22, 2018
The pacts include Tehran leasing to New Delhi operational control of part of the Iranian east coast port of Chabahar for 18 months as well as a double taxation avoidance treaty, extradition, and cooperation in the farm sector, medicine and others.
The leasing agreement giving operational control to India of Shahid Beheshti Port – phase one of the Chabahar Port – was signed in the presence of President Hassan Rouhani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and.
The $85 million project creates a transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.
India is trying to develop Chabahar as a way to gain access to the markets of Central Asia as well as Afghanistan.
Rouhani and Modi, in the joint statement, said that the MoUs exchanged between India and Iran are reflective of both sides' strong relations and their commitment to further strengthening it.
The two sides signed an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. The agreement will avoid burden of double taxation between the two countries in order to promote flow of investment and services.
Both the countries signed an agreement on exemption from visa requirement for holders of diplomatic passports.
An MoU was also inked on the exchange of instrument of ratification of extradition treaty, which brings into effect the extradition treaty signed between India and Iran in 2008.
An MoU on cooperation in the field of traditional systems of medicine was also signed to develop and strengthen cooperation in traditional systems of medicine including regulation of teaching, practice, drugs and drugless therapies.
In a bid to establish a framework of cooperation in the area of trade remedial measures namely, anti-dumping and countervailing duty, both India and Iran signed an MoU on the establishment of an expert group to promote cooperation in areas of mutual interest.
An MoU was signed on bilateral cooperation in the field of health and medicine as well. The two countries signed an agreement on postal cooperation.
In addition, four MoUs have also been signed between trade bodies.
Expansion of ties in all areas
Later, addressing a joint press conference, Rouhani and Modi expressed readiness to expand relations in all areas.
Rouhani said it was incumbent on the countries’ politicians to deepen the historical amity between the nations in all cultural, economic, and commercial areas.
“Iran and India’s ties are not to any country’s detriment,” he said. “There are ample capacities for the development and deepening of Iran and India’s relations, which should all be seized upon more than ever toward the interests of and creating a better future for the nations and the region,” Rouhani added.
The Iranian president also pointed to mutual investment in the Chabahar by Iran and India as well as Afghanistan as a means of turning it into a trade hub.
Rouhani said Chabahar could reinforce Iran and India’s historical ties by serving as a bridge connecting the subcontinent to Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. “We are ready to sign bilateral and trilateral agreements to turn the transit route passing through Chabahar into a strategic pathway serving the reinforcement of regional ties,” he said.
Iran, he added, can provide the energy resources India is in need of by entering into long-term strategic agreements with New Delhi.
Modi said many obstacles had been removed from the way of expanding bilateral economic relations, prompting many mutual investment projects to bear fruit and accelerating the trend of growth in mutual ties.
“Indian companies are ready to further their investment in the areas of mutual cooperation, including oil and gas,” he said.
Chabahar, he said, “can change the trade relations game across the region and the world,” noting that India had already begun exporting its goods, including wheat, to Afghanistan via the Iranian port city.
"We will support the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan rail link so that Chabahar gateway's potential could be fully utilized," Modi said.
"We want to expand connectivity, cooperation in the energy sector and the centuries-old bilateral relationship."
Efforts to help Afghanistan
Rouhani and Modi also agreed to step up efforts to bring stability to war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Modi reiterated India's commitment to help Afghanistan become "a peaceful, secure, permanent, prosperous and pluralistic country".
"Looking at our common interests, we are committed to stopping the expansion of such forces that promote international organized crime in terrorism, extremism, illegal drug trafficking, cybercrime and various forms," Modi said
"We want to see our region and the world free from terrorism."
There was no mention of financial assistance or providing weapons to help Afghanistan fight militants by either leader.
India has been a key supporter of Kabul's government and has poured more than $2 billion into the country since the Taliban were toppled in 2001.
In 2016, India offered $1 billion in economic aid to strengthen various sectors in the war-torn nation including education, health and agriculture.
President Rouhani was officially welcomed Saturday in New Delhi on the last day of his trip to India which began with an initial stop in the southern city of Hyderabad on Thursday.
He was accompanied by political and economic delegation, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and a number of representatives from the Iranian private sector.
Prime Minister Modi and Indian President Ram Nath Kovind formally welcomed Rouhani during a ceremony featuring celebratory gunfire at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the country’s presidential palace, in the Indian capital.
While he was in Hyderabad — the city — the Iranian president met with a group of elites, religious clerics, and leaders of the Muslim community there. He then joined Friday prayers at Hyderabad’s Makkah Masjid.
India has been a key purchaser of Iranian oil and gas, and maintained trade ties even as international sanctions were imposed on Tehran over its nuclear program between 2012 and 2016.
Iran is India’s third oil supplier. India imported 12.5 million tons of crude from the Islamic Republic in the period running from April 2017 to October 2018.
Non-oil trade between Iran and India reached $4.74 billion in the 12 months that followed March 2016, up by 4.17% compared to the same period in the previous year.
Rouhani’s gift to Modi
Rouhani also gifted an animated version of Kalila va Demna (Farsi translation of the Panchatantra) and a copy of the Mahabharata in Farsi to Modi.
"In a warm gesture, Iranian President Dr. Rouhani gifted an animated version of Kalila Wa Demna (Farsi translation of the Panchatantra) and a copy of the Mahabharat in Farsi to PM @narendramodi. #DustemanIran," Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
US to regret JCPOA violation
Speaking to a group of Indian researchers later in the day, Rouhani warned that the United States will regret if it breaches the 2015 international nuclear agreement.
“The United States is not dealing with Iran or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but with public opinion of the world”, said Rouhani adding, "The US must not mistake the world of politics with the world of business and if it violates the JCPOA, both its government and nation will regret it."
Rouhani added that Iran will adhere to commitments under the agreement it signed with six world powers.
“We will adhere to our commitments made,” Rouhani said at the event in New Delhi. “After signing a contract, haggling with it is ridiculous.”
US President Donald Trump has been pushing for changes to the agreement, which cleared the way for sanctions against the Islamic Republic to be lifted.
Although Trump in January declined to withdraw from the Iran deal — which he has long railed against and formerly promised to “rip up”. He gave a four-month deadline to the US Congress and America’s main European allies to address what he called the “disastrous flaws” of the deal.
A decision to reimpose sanctions would have effectively ended the Iran nuclear agreement.
The European parties to the deal, China and Russia have made it clear that they will not reopen negotiations on the deal, which they say is working as it is; and Trump’s demands could thus only be addressed by domestic US law, with no jurisdiction over Iran or the International Atomic Energy Agency, and with no direct effect on the nuclear deal.
Reuters, AFP, ANI and Press TV contributed to this story.