Rouhani meets Modi, Kovind in Delhi; Chabahar, energy talks on agenda

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Iranian President Dr Hassan Rouhani met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind on the last day of his three-day visit to India at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on Saturday. Modi will be hosting a lunch for Rouhani on Saturday while Kovind will host a banquet for him.

Connectivity and energy are seen as key items on the agenda for discussions between Rouhani and his Indian hosts. 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. In 2016, India, Afghanistan, and Iran decided to establish a trade route for land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. India committed up to USD 500 million for the development of Chabahar along with associated roads and rail lines.

India shipped its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through Chabahar last October. Rouhani began his three-day India visit after his arrival in Hyderabad on Thursday evening. This was his second visit to Hyderabad and the first after assuming charge as the president of Iran. Addressing a meeting of religious leaders belonging to different schools of thoughts, Rouhani on Thursday, urged different Muslims sects to stay united and fight the Western forces, and added that the community should put an end to internal differences.

Rouhani advised the gathering to emphasize more in resolving their issues and strengthening relationships between the Muslim communities. He said Iran wants peace across the world and friendly relations with not only Islamic countries but other countries as well. It believes that there is no military solution to problems.

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He said Iran has plan for the fraternity for India. “We do not want to have any difference with other countries”, he said adding how Iran “stood against the nations, and regions, in order to stop war conflict and violence.” Rouhani also addressed a Muslim congregation at the historic Mecca Masjid after performing Friday prayers. He is the first Iranian President to have visited the Mecca Masjid. He strongly criticized the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and urged Muslims to support the Palestinian cause. The Iranian president also lashed out at the United States for imposing a ban on travelers from six largely Muslim countries.

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