Indian FM arrives in Iran

TEHRAN: External affairs minister Salman Khurshid arrived here on Friday on a three-day visit during which he will have talks with Iranian leadership on ways to increase commercial links with the sanctions-hit country to reduce huge bilateral trade imbalance.

India’s participation in the upgradation of Iran’s Chahbahar port, which gives access to Afghanistan, will also be among a host of issues expected to figure in the talks that Khurshid will have with his counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi and President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

The two sides will sign three MoUs following the joint commission meeting that is taking place after a gap of two and a half years.

India is looking at ways to increase trade with Iran as it is concerned over the “grave” imbalance. The two-way trade is around $15 billion, out of which Indian exports account only for around $2.5 billion.

Oil is the biggest item of Indian import from Iran but India feels there is a lot of scope for increasing Indian exports to the Persian country particularly in pharmaceuticals and food.

However, efforts to enhance trade have been facing hurdles because of sanctions imposed by the UN and European Union, which make payment difficult.

There are also problems like re-insurance of oil refineries and transportation of consignment from Iran because of the sanctions.

Chahbahar port is strategically crucial as it gives access route to Afghanistan and India is actively involved in its upgradation with plans to infuse around 100 million dollars.

By The Times of India


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