TEHRAN (AFP) – India agreed Monday to finance the development of an Iranian port as a trading hub, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to revive economic ties with Tehran after the lifting of sanctions.
The Indian leader met Iranian officials including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani during a visit that he said would mark “a new chapter in our strategic partnership”.
Modi and Rouhani oversaw the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the provision of a line of credit from India’s EXIM Bank to develop Iran’s southern port of Chabahar, on the Gulf of Oman.
Rouhani hailed the project, saying it could become a “great symbol of cooperation between Iran and India”.
Modi’s visit, the first by an Indian premier to Iran in 15 years, comes after international sanctions against Tehran were lifted in mid-January following an agreement with world powers over its nuclear programme.
Since that long-awaited agreement was reached in July, officials from dozens of mainly Asian and European countries have visited Iran to seek a share of its 80-million strong market.
India, China’s greatest economic rival in Asia, is among the last regional powers to arrive.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran only days after the sanctions were lifted and pledged to expand trade to $600 billion in the next 10 years.
Xi’s visit was in line with his signature foreign policy initiative known as “One Belt One Road”.