Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, met on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony of Mr. Rouhani in Teheran to discuss bilateral issues. The Government of India looked confident and assured regarding India’s and Iran’s commitment to Chabahar port project.
Mr. Gadkari also invited the Iranian President to have a visit to India.
Nitin Gadkari represented India at the swearing-in ceremony for Mr. Rouhani and given the seniority he holds, this visit is seen as a significant reach out by the Indian government after months of a slide in relations between the two countries.
“Once Chabahar is operationalised, which we are hopeful to be in 12 to 18 months time, it will prove to be a gateway to golden opportunities to boost trade and business,” was the official statement by Mr. Gadkari. The statement on Chabahar Project has been released after a long delay in any sort of progress on this project.
”Both sides reiterated their commitment to complete and operationalise the [Chabahar] Port at the earliest that would contribute to bilateral and regional trade and economic development and also provide alternative access to landlocked Afghanistan to regional and global markets,” a statement from the MEA said on Sunday.
The past few months have widened the gap between the two countries as India has slashed oil imports from Iran by as much as 20% and is expected to lower its projected imports further in the wake of growing tensions between Iran and the U.S.
On the political front too, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei statements comparing the violence in Kashmir to that in Palestine suggested Iran’s unhappiness over PM Modi’s visit to Israel, and Mr. Gadkari’s visit is seen as a bid by both sides to reset the relationship.