India will push ahead this week with plans to build a port in southeast Iran, two sources said, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi keen to develop trade ties with Central Asia and prepared to fend off U.S. pressure not to rush into any deals with Iran.
India and Iran agreed in 2003 to develop a port at Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s border with Pakistan, but the venture has made little progress due to Western sanctions on Iran.
Now, spurred on by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signing of $46 billion of energy and infrastructure deals with Pakistan, Modi wants to swiftly sign trade agreements with Iran and other Gulf countries.
“Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari will travel on a day-long tour to Iran to sign a memorandum of understanding for development of Chabahar port,” a Shipping Ministry source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The deal will be signed on Wednesday, he said.
Encouraged by the prospect of a deal between world powers and Tehran by June 30 on Iran’s nuclear programme, after which sanctions could be eased, India recently sent a delegation to Iran to scout for trade, energy and infrastructure deals.