• Monday, May 27, 2024

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Tehran envoy assures New Delhi over China-brokered Iran-Saudi deal: ‘It would benefit India’

A man in Tehran holds a local newspaper reporting on its front page the China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties, signed in Beijing the previous day, on March, 11 2023. (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

Iranian ambassador to India Iraj Elahi on Friday (17) said the China-brokered deal between his country and regional foe Saudi Arabia to revive their diplomatic ties should not make India worried as the pact would not only provide regional stability but also prove beneficial for New Delhi.

Last week, Tehran and Riyadh announced full-fledged restoration of their diplomatic relations under the deal, seven years after severing their ties over a bitter row.

“I think it (the agreement) should not be a concern for India. It would be of benefit to India since it would help and intensify the stability and peace in the Persian Gulf region,” the envoy told a group of journalists in New Delhi.

“So it would be of benefit to India despite what has been done at the mediation of China,” he said.

The announcement on the deal had taken the diplomatic circles in New Delhi by surprise.

Elahi said peace and stability in the Gulf region will benefit the Indian diaspora as well, besides resulting in greater economic engagement that would include India’s trade ties with various countries in the region.

On Thursday (16), India welcomed the pact, saying it has always advocated dialogue and diplomacy to resolve differences.

“We have seen the reports in this regard. India has good relations with various countries in West Asia. We have deep abiding interests in that region,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson of India’s ministry of external affairs, said.

“India has always advocated dialogue and diplomacy as a way to resolve differences,” Bagchi said, without mentioning China’s role.

Asked whether Tehran is looking for investments in Iran by Riyadh under the deal, Elahi said it is expecting expansion of trade ties with both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We are looking forward to investments not only from Saudi Arabia, but also from the UAE. We believe that the region is at a critical point. The whole region — Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and different Arab states — have an understanding now that it would be beneficial to them to bridge the gap among themselves and plan for the future,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia has a huge economy. It is a member of G20 and has enough money to invest in Iran, but it is too soon to judge the issue,” Elahi said.

On the Chabahar port, the envoy said Iran believes that the Indian government has a positive approach towards it.

“Of course there are shortcomings from both sides. We understand the willingness of the Indian government towards Chabahar. We believe that Chabahar is not just an economic issue,” he said.

The ambassador said there is a need to view the Chabahar port project as a strategic engagement and not just as an economic partnership.

“For India, Chabahar is important. For Iran also, it is important. But Iran has different ports in all parts of the Persian Gulf. We can use different ports for transit and import and export. But Chabahar is an oceanic port. It is close to the Indian Ocean and closest to the route to Afghanistan,” he said.

The Iranian ambassador said there is a need to look at Chabahar beyond economic perspectives.

“Because of this importance, the speed of cooperation, the speed of progress and the speed of promotion in Chabahar should be faster than what it is now. It is important for India as well as Iran. It will be for our benefit,” he said.

Located in Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Iran’s southern coast, the Chabahar port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost connectivity and trade ties.

(With PTI inputs)

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