EghtesadOnline: The top Indian diplomat said Tehran and New Delhi have longstanding friendly relations that will remain strong and stable despite the difficulties caused by the United States' policies against Iran.
"Surely the current hard times will come to an end," India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said in a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on Monday, President.ir reported.
Since the US exit from the 2015 nuclear deal last year, Tehran has been facing severe American sanctions that have restricted its trade with the world, including with India, its major trade partner.
The two countries have engaged in talks to maintain and expand their relations despite the sanctions, Financial Tribune reported.
Rouhani also stressed the importance of protecting mutual ties against US threats.
"Under the current circumstances, when the US is standing against [other] nations with unilateral sanctions, we need to keep and continue bilateral relations and collaborations," he said.
He said this situation is temporary and the US will have to end its maximum pressure on Iran sooner or later, "before or after its presidential elections".
The present anti-Iran policies were imposed by the administration of US President Donald Trump who will stand for reelection in November 2020, provided he is not removed from office during his impeachment trial.
Preserving Trade Ties
Jaishankar had earlier co-chaired the 19th session of Iran-India Economic Commission with his counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
He described the meeting as constructive and effective in addressing the problems facing Iran-India cooperation.
"We need to preserve and further expand collaborations in various sectors, especially trade," he said, highlighting the need to improve banking ties along this line.
Rouhani said holding such joint commission meetings will help mobilize resources for improving multifaceted relations to a favorable level.
He also expressed satisfaction with the two countries' cooperation in Chabahar in southeastern Iran where India has been given operational control of Shahid Beheshti Port (phase one of Chabahar Port) as per an $85 million lease agreement.
The project also involves building a 500-km railroad from Chabahar to Zahedan, the provincial capital of Sistan-Baluchestan.
"The completion of Chabahar-Zahedan railroad and its connection to Iran's nationwide rail network will not only enhance the status of the port, but will also cause a transformation in regional trade and the transit of goods from a shorter and cheaper route," Rouhani said.
Jaishankar said the joint plan is progressing well and called for efforts to accelerate its implementation.
Despite its threats against countries that do business with Iran, the US has granted a waiver to India from sanctions on the Chabahar project on the grounds that it plays a vital role in transporting India's humanitarian supplies to war-torn Afghanistan.
Chabahar Port provides an alternative route for trade between India and Afghanistan. In 2017, India sent its first shipment of wheat to Afghanistan through the strategic Iranian port.
In addition, the Iranian president pointed to the security of the Persian Gulf region as an important issue for both Iran and India.
"Along this line, Iran has proposed the Hormuz Peace Endeavor that can be a solution to protect the security and stability of the region," he said, referring to a plan that he unveiled during the United Nations General Assembly in September and called on all regional states as well as the UN to work together for ensuring peace.
The volatile region has been experiencing heightened tensions since May when several attacks were made on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.