Iran will adhere to nuclear deal till last breath: Rouhani

Lease contract on Chahbahar among 9 pacts inked after Indo-Iran talks


New Delhi, Feb 17: India today inked nine pacts with Iran, including one on getting operational control of the first part of the Chabahar port for 18 months, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held "substantive" talks to broad-base ties in oil, gas and banking sectors. In their nearly two-hour-long talks, Modi and Rouhani also held extensive deliberations on pressing regional and global issues such as ways to combat terrorism.
The two sides signalled a convergence of strategic interests in the region, including in war-torn Afghanistan. On whether the kidnapping of Kulbhushan Jadhav, currently on a death row in Pakistan, from Iran was raised in the talks, officials in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the issue did not figure in the deliberations.
Asked if India raised the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir during today's talks, they said there was an understanding by the Iranian side on how India has been a victim of terrorism, indicating that it figured in the deliberations.
Apart from inking of lease contract between Iran's Port and Maritime Organization and India's Ports Global Limited (IPGL) to take over operation of existing facilities at the ShahidBeheshti Port Phase 1 of Chabahar for 18 months, the two sides signed avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. Other pacts included ratification of nearly a decade-old extradition treaty, exemption from visa requirement for holders of diplomatic passports, traditional systems of medicine and establishment of an expert group on trade remedy measures. In addition to the nine pacts, four more pacts were inked on the sidelines of Rouhani's three-day visit, officials said.
Talking about ramping up trade, the two leaders emphasised on the need to put in place an effective banking channel for business transactions.
"It was noted that permission for the Iranian Pasargadbank to open a branch in India was under advance consideration," a joint statement said.
It was also agreed to set up a joint committee of officials to examine feasible options, including Rupee-Rial arrangement and Asian clearing union mechanism to establish functional payment channels, the statement said.
The two countries also agreed to grant the e-visa facility to each other's nationals. At a joint press event with Rouhani, Modi said India is commited to deepen ties with Tehran, particularly in trade and investment and will support the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan rail link to improve regional connectivity.
Modi said the two countries want a terror-free world and they were committed to stopping the expansion of those powers which encourage terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, cyber crimes and other international crimes.
On his part, Rouhanisaid,"We are determined to combat terrorism and extremism."
Trying to reflect on growing congruence in bilateral ties, Rouhani said the two sides deliberated on a range of pressing bilateral, regional and international issues but did not disagree on even a "single topic".
Rouhani's India visit comes nearly a month after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trip here, and hosting the Iranian leader is seen as a balancing act by New Delhi. Calling for an immediate end to all support and sanctuaries enjoyed by terrorist groups and individuals, the two leaders said states that aid, abet and directly or indirectly support terrorism should be condemned, according to the statement.
Recognising the challenges of terrorism and ideologies of violent extremism, the two leaders reiterated their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
"They called on the international community to end selective or partial approaches to combating terrorism and, in this regard, stressed the need to make every effort to reach an agreement on and conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism at the UN General Assembly," the joint statement said.
Modi said the visit by the Iranian president shows how the two sides want to deepen cooperation in key areas, including connectivity, and described the strategically-important Chabahar as a "golden gateway", development of which will help in reaching out to land-locked Afghanistan and central Asia.
On Afghanistan, both sides stressed that the interests of peace and stability in the region are best served by a strong, united, prosperous, pluralisitic, democratic and independent Afghanistan and supported the National Unity Government in the country.
"They stressed the significance of strengthening India-Iran-Afghanistan trilateral consultations and coordination, including by suitably supplementing their cooperation on Chabahar.
"In this context, they also called upon the countries of the region to come forward for enhancing regional connectivity and take steps to do away with the obstacles on land transit," the joint statement said.
The two leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) for comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council.
They also underscored the need for strengthening and reform of multilateral financial institutions and enhancing the voice and participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making. The two sides also agreed to enhancing cooperation in the maritime domain.
However, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani today asserted that his country will adhere to the terms of the nuclear deal it signed with world powers till "the last breath" and warned that the US will "regret" if the pact was broken. Rouhani's comments come after US President Donald Trump had threatened to pull out of the deal. He had sought a review of the nuclear pact.
"We as a country have always adhered (to commitments). We will not violate it (the pact) and will stay on board. It is the order of God. If we are signing the pact then we will adhere to it, till the last breath," he said.
Rouhani, while delivering an address here on 'The priorities of the foreign policy of Islamic Republic of Iran', said the time for "haggling" by president Trump is over and negotiating after signing the deal is "ridiculous".
The US is not dealing with Iran alone on the issue of nuclear pact but also with the United Nations Security Council, which has approved the pact, said Rouhani at the event organised by the Observer Research Foundation.
The US, he observed, will "regret" if the deal collapses and the people within that country would voice concerns over it. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, was a notable foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration.
The deal, struck in 2015 between between Iran and six world powers the US, the UK, Russia, France, China, and Germany, lifted economic sanctions on Tehran, and in return put limitations on its controversial nuclear energy programme.
President Trump has expressed its reservations about the deal. Last month, he waived sanctions against Iran as required under JCPOA, but warned that it will be the last such waiver if radical changes are not made in the pact.
A joint statement by India and Iran after Rouhani's delegation-level talks with Prime Minister NarendraModi said India reaffirms its support for full and effective implementation of the JCPOA.
The JCPOA has been endorsed by the UN Security Council and is a crucial contribution to the non-proliferation framework and international peace, stability and security, it said.
Backing New Delhi's quest for a permanent seat in the UNSC, Rouhani asked why India, a nation with population of 1.3 billion, was not a member of the powerful club.
"Why doesn't India, with a population of 1.3 billion, have veto rights? Those who had atomic bombs were given veto rights," Rouhani said, emphasising on having ethics in foreign policy as against military might.
Veto right in the UNSC lies with the US, the UK, China, France and Russia.
Hitting out at the US, Rouhani said many issues in the world today have arisen out of miscalculation and Washington has constantly resorted to that mistake with regard to Tehran.
He said the US sought to control the lives of Iranians and even tried to stop the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Recalling the Iraq-Iran war, Rouhani said Saddam Hussain, the former president of Iraq, who ruled the country with an iron fist, reneged on the commitment made between the two countries and borders, which resulted in a devastating war.

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