After 'substantive' talks India, Iran ink 9 pacts

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement after talks with visiting Iranian President Hassan Rohani in New Delhi on February 17.

"Government of Iran is willing to expand its business with India and share its oil, gas and energy resources", said Iranian President Dr. Hassan Rouhan. In an attempt to circumvent the banking problems caused by western sanctions on Iran, India will, for the first time, allow investment in rupees in Iran.

The Iranian president's visit to New Delhi comes after a four nation trip by Modi to West Asia and the Gulf region, which has seen new alignments with Israel and many of its former adversaries-the Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates-seemingly allied against Shia majority Iran.

He further said that co-operation between India and Iran would be beneficial to Afghanistan.

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.

"Thirdly, the deadlock we had on the viability of Farzad-B block, its size of capex, return, timeline, we discussed all the three issues".

"Strengthening cooperation in energy, connectivity, IT, education, culture and people-to-people contact came up for discussion", External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted following the meeting.

The $85 million project, just 90km from the China-sponsored Gwadar port in Pakistan, creates a transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. "If they withdraw from the deal, the USA will regret it", he warned, reiterating Iran's commitment to the agreement as long as the other signatories did not renege on their part of the bargain.

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India today sought from Iran a stake in a producing oil field and said it will raise crude oil import from Iran in the financial year beginning April, reversing the 25 per cent reduction it had done in the current fiscal. "They together built their country and built their civilization", Rouhani said in his speech in Persian.

"Iran and India's ties are not to any country's detriment", he said.

Earlier in the day, India and Iran signed nine Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) s following the delegation-level talks in the presence of PM Modi and Iranian President Rouhani.

"People of both India and Iran believe in peace and tolerance drawing from the values of Sufi philosophy".

President Rouhani arrived here Friday evening after two days stay in Hyderabad.

Rouhani asserted that both the countries were determined to combat terrorism and extremism, adding that regional conflicts must be resolved through diplomacy and political initiatives.

With India now allowing investment in Indian Rupees in Iran, "permission for the Iranian Pasargadbank to open a branch in India" is "under advance consideration".

"If they violate the agreement, the USA will regret it", he said asking the people of the United States to oppose strongly such a move.

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