What does Iran President Hassan Rouhani's visit mean for India?
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will leave for India on Thursday on a three-day visit. This will be the premier's first India trip since coming to power in August'13. He is expected to hold discussions with top officials and address foreign policy meets. Despite some tension, India and Iran have cooperated on key projects, significantly the Chabahar port in Iran that was inaugurated in December.
Why is Iran important for India?
India and Iran have largely shared friendly ties. Delhi has been one of Tehran's key oil-and-gas purchasers, even when international sanctions were imposed on Iran over its nuclear program during 2012-16. Iran is also significant for India's connectivity plans with Western Asia. The $500mn Chabahar agreement was touted as a "landmark move" to open up a strategic transit route to Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.
A few hitches in bilateral relations
There've been a few hurdles too. India was apparently dissatisfied over delays in awarding contracts to develop the Farzad B gas-field in Arabian Gulf. Consequently, India threatened to reduce oil imports from Tehran, and Iran responded by saying it would restrict credit lines to Delhi. In 2017, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei surprisingly raked up the Kashmir issue after a seven-year gap.
Both countries expected to sort out differences during Rouhani's visit
But both sides are trying to maintain amiable ties. India has said it won't "shy away" from investing in infrastructure projects in Iran amid US threats of trade sanctions. Moreover, Iran is still India's third-largest oil supplier. During April-October'17, New Delhi bought 12.5MT of oil from Iran. Rouhani's visit is expected to bring amicable solutions to the ongoing frictional issues.