Source: Economic Times

As it prepares for billions of dollars of investments in the oil sector following the nuclear deal, Iran today said it will welcome India’s participation in various “big ticket projects” in diverse sectors including enhancing transport infrastructure in the region.

Holding that India has emerged as an economic power, Iranian Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari said both the countries can work together in mega connectivity projects in the region and cited the deal to develop strategically located Chabahar port.

“India can be always part of any big ticket projects in Iran,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of reviving the Iran-Pakistan- India gas pipeline project, the envoy said it was up to India and Pakistan to sort out their differences.

“We are not interfering on these sort of small issues. That’s their own problem. We do not get into these sorts of disputes. We are for big projects. It is up to them which project they want to be part of,” he said.

The work on the proposed gas pipeline is stalled due to security concerns over the pipeline traversing through Pakistan.

Identifying ISIS as a major threat for the region as well as the world, Ansari said India and Iran can cooperate with each other to tackle the terrorist outfit.

“The most important issue in our region which is the best way to cooperate between India and Iran is to tackle ISIS. We should concentrate on how we can eradicate this cancer.

“ISIS is today not just a threat for Iran or India, ISIS is a deep threat for the region, for the world and for humanity. The way they are acting in the region needs comprehensive and coordinated measures,” the Iranian envoy said, adding military option is not the only measure to eradicate ISIS.

Ansari hoped that trade and economic engagement between India and Iran will grow following the deal his country struck with six major powers last month to limit its nuclear activities.

There has been indication that Iran will increase its oil production soon.

According to industry estimates, India has been Iran’s second biggest oil customer after China. Iranian oil has been imported by private as well as public sector refiners in India.

Sources indicated that there has been talks between the two sides for payment of USD 6.5 billion oil import dues by India to Iran.

On development of the Chabahar port which the two countries had signed an MoU in May, Ansari said “India is the most welcome country to the Chabahar. We are proceeding quite well. We just need to expedite our measures.”

The expansion of the port, located in Sistan-Balochistan Province on Iran’s southeastern coast, is aimed at improving trade connectivity between Southeast Asia and Central Asia. The port is of great strategic utility for India, which will get sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.

On Afghanistan, he said it wants to see stability and tranquility in that country. “We hope we bring all those countries which are for stability of Afghanistan like India to help us to give more options to Afghans for a better life.”