India and Iran on Sunday held important talks that are likely to lead to greater Indian investment in the West Asian country, especially in the oil and gas sectors. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and the two reviewed bilaterial ties between the nations, focussing largely on energy, ports and connectivity, PTI reported.
India is believe to have earmarked $20 billion (Rs 1.33 lakh crore) for investments in the oil and gas as well as petrochemicals and fertilisers sectors in Iran, where economic sanctions imposed on it by the West were lifted in January. Since then, many major economies have eyed investments in the oil-rich nation, and India appears to be stepping up its interests, saying the two countries have “centuries-old ties”.
Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, ”The talks were very successful and would give new energy to our centuries-old ties with Iran. In particular, the economic partnership will get considerable fillip as a result of today’s forward-looking talks.”
The development of the Chabahar port was one of the items discussed on Sunday. In February, India had approved a credit line of $150 million (Rs 1,000 crore) towards the project in an effort to sidestep Pakistan and improve its access to Afghanistan, where it has security and economic interests.
Swarup added that the energy partnership would go both ways, and "Iran said it would be happy to participate in the refinery sector in India." The two countries also agreed to work on pending trade agreements such as Preferential Trade Agreement, Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and Bilateral Investment Treaty.