He also emphasised on the importance of the Chabahar port being jointly built in southeastern Iran, saying it will open the transit route for India to Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asian countries as well as Europe.
Ahead of the bilateral meeting between both countries, President Rouhani said, "We, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, believe that the people of Iran and India have had friendly relations with each other. We have had (close) cultural, economic and other relations with each other since the last many centuries." President Rouhani was given a state reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning.
Here are the highlights of Iran President Hassan Rouhani's India visit and his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi:
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, while giving the joint statement with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India and Iran had a good understanding on the Chabahar port. He said that he had seen the construction of the Chabahar port with investment from India.
President Rouhani said India and Iran will see development in the co-operation in the energy, petroleum and gas sectors.
India and Iran have signed nine agreements and have kept their focus on Iran's Chabahar port. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier in the joint statement, highlighted the importance of the Chabahar port, saying it helped in increasing trade.
The nine agreements that were signed are listed as follows:
Maritime Agreement on Chabahar Port and Document on Shahid Behesti port
Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Exemption of Visa requirements for diplomatic passport holders
Ratification of Extradition Treaty
Co-operation on Medicine
MoU on Establishment on Trade
MoU on Co-operation on Agriculture
MoU on Health
Mou on Postal Co-operation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India and Iran want to co-operate on many fronts and want to deepen ties. PM Modi lauded Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's vision for giving access for trade with land-locked Afghanistan through Iran's Chabahar port.
PM Modi said Indians and Iranians had learned a lot from each other. He said that India and Iran's bond will only grow stronger with easier visa norms and educational ties.
PM Modi said that more co-operation between India and Iran would only benefit Afghanistan, India and Iran's immediate neighbour.
He said India and Iran shared the same vision for the entire sub-continent.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iran President Hassan Rouhani have begun to give a joint statement.
Civilizational connect, contemporary context! PM @narendramodi welcomed President of Iran Dr. Rouhani to India. Both leaders held substantive & productive discussion on cooperation in trade & investment, energy, connectivity, defence & security & regional issues. #DustemanIranpic.twitter.com/LICDykC5F6- Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) February 17, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Hyderabad House in Delhi. The two leaders will discuss various issues with regard to ties between Iran and India. Both nations want to deepen their cultural relations and deepen economic ties. Bilateral talks will follow, at the end of which both leaders will give a joint statement. The talks will last nearly 2 hours, following which both countries will sign and exchange agreements.
(Photo: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi hold bilateral talks at Delhi's Hyderabad House)
A close friend in our extended neighbourhood! EAM @SushmaSwaraj called on President of Iran Dr. Hassan Rouhani. Strengthening cooperation in energy, connectivity, IT, education, culture and people-to-people contact came up for discussion. #DustemanIranpic.twitter.com/xFxycjVNYU- Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) February 17, 2018
The United States has said that it will not come in the way of India-Iran trade matters. In October 2017, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a visit to India, had said the Trump administration saw "no contradiction" with US-Iran sanctions and India's port project in Chabahar. In a major geopolitical decision, Indians can invest in Iranian infrastructure and connectivity projects in rupees, making Iran the only country apart from Bhutan and Nepal to get this privilege. This helps Iran bypass sanctions and boost ties with India.
Iran has also said that it will simplify visa norms for Indians so that people to people ties could improve. Mr Rouhani said he hopes India will do the same for the people of his country. In Hyderabad, President Rouhani, who is a Shia, visited the Sunni mosque Mecca Masjid and called for unity among Muslims. He joined people in offering prayers at the 17th century mosque. "If Islam is presented before the world in true sense, then the whole world will love this religion," he said. The Iranian President also condemned the travel ban imposed by US President Donald Trump on some countries by branding Muslims as terrorists, news agency PTI reported. President Rouhani said in Hyderabad that Islam is based on kindness and affection.
Oil and gas cooperation will be the other issue on the table. India imports oil and gas from Iran, but negotiations have been pending on the Farzad-B gas and oil fields in Iran's southern area, which India has expressed interest in. "Iran has abundant oil and natural gas resources and is willing to share them with India for its progress and prosperity of (its) people," President Rouhani said in Hyderabad. A 21-member delegation of ministers and businessmen from Iran is accompanying him and they are looking to seal a number of deals.
During Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to India, both nations will be hoping to iron out several issues, particularly the progress on the deepwater Chabahar Port that Iran feels has got stuck due to US pressure on other countries and the latest set of sanctions against Iran. India is already routing a consignment of 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar port. The $85 million port project, just 90 km from the China-sponsored Gwadar port in Balochistan, is significant as it gives India, Iran and Afghanistan a transit route to central Asia and Europe.
After the ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani proceeded to Rajghat. He will lay a wreath at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi. From there, President Rouhani will head to Hotel ITC Maurya in New Delhi's diplomatic enclave, where External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and he will meet. This will be followed by President Rouhani attending a business event at Hotel Leela Palace, which is also located in diplomatic enclave - Chankyapuri. At noon, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet at Hyderabad House in Delhi. The meeting will last for nearly two hours, at the end of which, at 1:50 pm, both leaders will give a joint press statement. Agreements signed between Iran and India will also be exchanged at the time.
At 4 pm this evening, The Iranian president will participate at the Observer Research Foundation lecture at the Taj Mahal Hotel (Taj Mansingh) in Delhi. He will then proceed to Hotel ITC Maurya where Vice President Venkaiah Naidu will meet him.
Later in the evening, President Rouhani will meet the members of the Parsi community at an event at Hotel ITC Maurya. In his last engagement for the day, the Iranian president will meet his Indian counterpart at the Rashtrapati Bhavan at 7:30 pm.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a short statement at the Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning after he was given a ceremonial welcome. President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the Iranian President to India.
Watch Iran President Hassan Rouhani's statement below:
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning. The Iranian president is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi this afternoon. India and Iran look to enhance cultural relations and deepen economic ties.
This is first visit to India by an Iranian President in ten years. President Rouhani, who has been in India for the last two days - visiting Hyderabad - was given a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning. President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed President Rouhani, who also gave a short statement to the media after the welcome ceremony.
(Photo: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was given a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning)