India, Iran to step up cooperation on Afghanistan
NEW DELHI (AP) — India and Iran said Saturday that they would step up cooperation in combatting extremism, terrorism and drug trafficking in Afghanistan in an effort to restore peace and stability to the war-wracked country.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the two countries would also make efforts to improve energy security and regional connectivity to reach landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia by developing Iran’s Chabahar Port and road and rail routes.
“We both will work for restoring peace, stability, prosperity and a pluralistic system in Afghanistan,” Modi said after holding talks with Rouhani in New Delhi on the final day of Rouhani’s three-day visit.
Rouhani said Iran and India “are prepared for joint ventures in gas and petroleum sectors.” He sought India’s investment in these areas, as well as in the industrial and mining sectors.
He said Afghanistan must be “a vivacious and secure country,” adding that Iran and India would also cooperate in dealing with the situations in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Iran is a key stakeholder in the future of those nations.
Rouhani’s visit to India came at a time when President Donald Trump has threatened to scuttle an international deal reached with Iran in 2015 over its nuclear program that ended economic sanctions imposed on the country.
The uncertainty puts India in a difficult position with its growing ties with the United States.
Rouhani referred to Trump’s threat on the nuclear deal, and said that “politics without adhering to one’s commitment and promises cannot resolve the conflicts and problems of the current world.”
He also accused the United States of intervening in the internal affairs of countries in the Middle East.
“Why did they (U.S.) invade Iraq? Why are they in Syria now? Why have they occupied a part of Syria now?” Rouhani asked while giving a speech at the Observer Research Foundation, an Indian think-tank.
“We know that selling arms is a very profitable business,” he said. “We are aware that the factories that produce arms need customers.”
India and Iran signed agreements Saturday for avoidance of double taxation and implementing an extradition treaty signed in 2008. Another agreement envisaged the pooling of technical, scientific and human resources between the two countries.
India will also help Iran in running a multipurpose container terminal at the Chabahar Port for 18 months as part of a lease agreement. India is helping Iran develop Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan, which has refused to provide New Delhi access through a land route.
India committed up to $500 million for the development of Chabahar along with associated roads and rail lines.