India has been very clear that its relations with Iran should be independent of its relations with other states, said the secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
Speaking to Iran Daily on the sidelines of a meeting in the Indian capital of New Delhi with a press delegation comprising journalists from the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) member states, Sanjaya Baru added India has not allowed the US to become a barrier to the development of its relations with Iran even prior to the going into effect of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed between Iran and P5+1 in January 2016.
Established on March 7, 1997, IORA is a 21-member intergovernmental organization which seeks to expand regional economic cooperation and strengthen mutually beneficial collaboration through a consensus-based approach.
The Indian Ocean Rim defines a distinctive area in international politics consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean. Iran is a member state.
He said the FICCI and the Indian government were very keen on Iran joining the IORA, adding the Indian government has welcomed the Middle Eastern country’s membership right from the beginning.
“The two countries have a very historical relationship with each other and are connected both by land and sea.”
At present, since the two states’ land-based connections have been severed, they have become dependent on sea for the continuation and strengthening of their trade and political relations, Baru said.
FICCI’s secretary general added India and Iran have made investments in the development of Chabahar Port in southeast Iran to further facilitate trade with each other and their connectivity through sea.
For India, he said, Iran is a very important part of the Indian Ocean Region.
Baru stressed that India is attempting to increase its economic ties with Iran.
“For centuries, India had very strong links with Iran and the Central Asian countries. Through this region, we also had trade relations all the way to Eastern Europe. However, due to India’s strained relations with Pakistan, the link has been cut.”
The two countries have fought three wars since independence from Britain.
Despite a cease-fire agreement that was reached in November 2003, sporadic skirmishes continue in the region.
He added India needs Chabahar Port to have easier access to the Iranian market as well as those of other regional states.
The port can act as a gateway for the Indian exports and imports to and from Iran, the Central Asian countries and Eastern Europe, Baru added. Established in 1927, FICCI is the largest and oldest apex business organization in India. Its history is closely interwoven with India’s struggle for independence, its industrialization and its emergence as one of the most rapidly growing global economies.
A nongovernment, not-for-profit organization, FICCI is the voice of India’s business and industry. From influencing policy to encouraging debate, engaging with policymakers and civil society, FICCI articulates the views and concerns of industry. It serves its members from the Indian private and public corporate sectors and multinational companies, drawing its strength from diverse regional chambers of commerce and industry across states, reaching out to over 2,50,000 companies.