India-Iran Relations India-Iran Relations

India-Iran Relations

Embassy of India

Tehran

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India-Iran Relations

India-Iran relations span millennia marked by meaningful interactions. The two countries shared a border till 1947 and share several common features in their language, culture and traditions. Both South Asia and the Persian Gulf have strong commercial, energy, cultural and people-to-people links.

Political relations

  1. India and Iran signed a friendship treaty on March 15, 1950. Before the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Shah of Iran visited India twice (March 1956 and February 1978) and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Iran in 1963. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Prime Minister Morarji Desai visited Iran in April 1974 and June 1977 respectively. After the Iranian Revolution, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao visited Iran in 1993 and President Rafsanjani paid a visit to India in 1995. Indian Vice President Shri K. R. Narayanan visited Iran in October 1996.
  1. The trend was enhanced at the turn of the millennium with the visit of Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Tehran in April 2001 wherein the two countries signed the “Tehran Declaration” which set forth the areas of possible cooperation between the two countries. President Mohammad Khatami visited India from January 24-28, 2003 as the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade. Both sides signed “The New Delhi Declaration” which set forth the vision of strategic partnership between India and Iran. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh visited Iran to attend the 16thNon-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit held in Tehran from August 28-31, 2012. Prime Minister met Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad.
  1. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi paid a bilateral visit to Iran from May 22-23, 2016. Prime Minister called on the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and held delegation level talks with President Rouhani. A Joint Statement titled “Civilizational Connect, Contemporary context” was released. 12 MoUs/Agreements were signed between India and Iran. A Trilateral agreement on Transit and Transport was signed between India, Iran and Afghanistan in the presence of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, President Dr. Hassan Rouhani and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Prime Minister also inaugurated the International Conference titled “India-Iran two great civilizations” in Vahdat Hall, Tehran and released a Persian Manuscript “Kalileh Wa Dimneh”.
  1. Dr. Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran, paid his first State Visit to India from February 15-17, 2018. President Rouhani was accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising Cabinet Ministers including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, senior officials and business leaders. He started his visit in Hyderabad, where he offered Friday prayers at the Mecca Masjid mosque. Delegation level discussions were held between Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and President Dr. Rouhani in New Delhi on 17 February. 13 MoUs/Agreements were signed during the visit, prominent among them being the contract for interim operations of Chabahar port and MoU on Cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine. A Joint Statement titled “Towards prosperity through greater connectivity” was signed during the visit.
  1. There have been other regular high level exchanges. External Affairs Minister, Shri Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visited Iran on 22-23 December 2019 for the 19th Joint Commission Meeting. During the visit, he also called on President Rouhani and met the Secretary, Supreme National Security Council, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, and Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Mohammad Eslami. Foreign Minister Dr. Javad Zarif participated in the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi from 14-17 January 2020, and had meetings with the External Affairs Minister, Shri. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and with the National Security Advisor, Shri. Ajit Doval on the side-lines. He also called on the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi during the visit.
  1. The two countries have in place several Bilateral Consultative Mechanisms at various levels which meet regularly. These include the Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) chaired at the Ministerial level, the Foreign Office Consultations chaired at the Foreign Secretary level, and the Joint Consular Committee Meeting at the level of Joint Secretary/DG. The 19th JCM was held on 22-23 December 2019 in Tehran. External Affairs Minister, Shri Subrahmanyam Jaishankar co-chaired the 19th JCM along with the Foreign Minister of Iran, Dr. Javad Zarif. The 16th FOC was held in Tehran on 16 September 2019, led by Foreign Secretary Shri Vijay Gokhale on the Indian side and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi on the Iranian side.
  1. Both India and Iran also consult each other on security matters. There are regular bilateral exchanges at the level of National Security Advisors and Deputy National Security Advisors. India has been participating in the 6 Nations’ NSA talks that have been hosted by Iran in the past two years. National Security Advisor, Shri. Ajit Doval visited Iran on 26 September 2018 to participate in the 1st 6 Nations’ NSA talks, and Deputy NSA, Shri. Rajinder Khanna represented India during the 2nd 6 Nations’ NSA talks on 18 December 2019.
  1. There have also been Parliamentary level exchanges between the two countries. The Speaker of Lok Sabha, Smt. Meira Kumar visited Iran in 2011 followed by a return visit of the Speaker of Majlis, Dr. Ali Larijani to India in 2013. The Chairman of the India-Iran Parliamentary friendship group, Nazar Afsali visited India in 2018.
  1. A list of important high level visits are enclosed at the end of this brief.

Economic and Commercial Relations

  1. India-Iran commercial ties were traditionally dominated by Indian import of Iranian crude oil. In 2018-19 India imported US$ 12.11 bn worth of crude oil from Iran. However, following the end of the Significant Reduction Exemption (SRE) period on 2 May 2019, India has suspended importing crude from Iran. The bilateral trade during 2019-20 was $4.77 billion, a decrease of 71.99% as compared to the trade of $17.03 billion 2018-19. What is significant is that Indian exports to Iran between 2011-12 and 2019-20 have grown by 45.60%. India’s major exports to Iran include rice, tea, sugar, soya, medicines/pharmaceuticals, man-made staple fibres, electrical machinery, etc. Major imports from Iran include inorganic/organic chemicals, fertilizers, cement clinkers, fruits and nuts, leather, etc. Both countries are negotiating a Preferential Trade Agreement, on which five rounds of talks on have been held so far.
  1. The Embassy of India has been at the forefront of promoting economic and commercial relations between India and Iran. The Embassy of India organized three events titled ‘Potential for expanding India-Iran trade’ to promote bilateral trade. Two such events were organised in collaboration with the Tehran Chamber of Commerce Industries Mines and Agriculture in December 2018, and in February 2020, and another event was organised in collaboration with the Iran Chamber of Commerce Industries Mines and Agriculture in March 2019. The Embassy has also facilitated visits of Indian business delegations, and participation of Indian companies in Iranian exhibitions.
  2. Considering the importance of India-Iran economic and commercial relations, two Indian banks, State Bank of India and UCO Bank, have their representative offices in Iran.

Connectivity

  1. India is developing the 1st Phase of Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar. The capacity of the port will reach 8.5 MT at the end of the first phase. During the visit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Tehran in May 2016, the contract on the Shahid Beheshti port of Chabahar was signed which, inter-alia, comprises investment of $85 million for procuring equipment of the port. The contract also comprises of provision of a line of credit of approximately USD 150 million for the development of the port. After operations began at the Chabahar port in December 2018, the port has handled more than 8200 TEUs and 1.28 million tonnes of bulk cargo.
  1. The Trilateral Transit Agreement (Chabahar Agreement) was signed by the three transport ministers of India, Iran and Afghanistan in the presence of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, President Dr. Rouhani and President Ashraf Ghani in May 2016. The 2nd Ministerial level trilateral meeting between Afghanistan, India and Iran to discuss the implementation of Trilateral Agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor was held at Chabahar, Iran on December 3, 2017, in which the Indian delegation was led by Minister of State for Shipping Shri Pon Radhakrishnan. One Coordination Council meeting and two follow up committee meetings of the Chabahar Agreement have taken place till date. Based on this trilateral, around 110000 tonnes of wheat and 2000 tonnes of pulses was sent via the port in 2017-2018. India is now shipping 75000 MT tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan through the port.
  1. During the visit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Iran in May 2016, IRCON and Construction, Development of Transport Infrastructure Company (CDTIC) signed a MoU that will enable IRCON to provide requisite services for the construction of Chabahar-Zahedan railway line which forms part of the transit and transportation corridor in the Chabahar Agreement. Both sides have remained committed to the project.

Humanitarian Assistance

  1. India has also helped Iran in times of natural disasters and health emergencies. India delivered aid that included PPE kits and PCR machines to Iran in April 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis. In 2019, India provided 103 tonnes of aid to Iran during the floods that ravaged the country. In June 2020, India supplied Malathion pesticide to Iran to fight the menace of desert locusts.

Cultural Relations

  1. An Indian Cultural Centre in Tehran was inaugurated by Shri Salman Khurshid, then External Affairs Minister during his visit to Iran for the NAM summit in May 3, 2013. The Cultural Centre was renamed the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC) in 2018, and was provided a separate premises in 2019. The Centre organizes music/cultural/literary programmes/ seminars on cultural/literary issues related to India and Iran on a regular basis. The International Day of Yoga was organized in 2018, 2019 and 2020. To commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi (from October 2018 to October 2019), a series of events were organized. The 550th Birth Centenary of Sri Guru Nanak was also observed. The center conducts regular Yoga and Hindi classes.
  1. Cultural ties are given momentum via important visits. Shri Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) visited Iran from November 30-December 2, 2018 to inaugurate the seminar on ‘Linguistic Links between Persian and Sanskrit languages.’ During his visit, he met Dr. Seyyed Abbas Salehi, Minister for Culture and Islamic Guidance.

Indian community

  1. The Indian community in Iran comprises of around 5000 Indian nationals. This includes around 80-100 families in Tehran and 15 families in Zahedan. There are approx. 3000 Indian nationals in Qom, Mashhad and Esfahan consisting of Indian students undergoing theological studies and their family members. There are also substantial number of Indian fishermen, seafarers, workers, university students and professionals in Iran. There is an Indian school in Tehran run by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) under the aegis of Embassy of India and another Indian school in Zahedan.

People to people contacts

  1. There is a high level commitment in both countries to promote and facilitate people to people contacts. Indian pilgrims visit the Sh'ia pilgrimage circuit in Iran (Qom, Mashhad, Hamedan) and Iraq (Najaf and Karbala) every year. In 2020, more than 1100 Indian pilgrims visited Iran. These included more than 900 pilgrims from Ladakh, more than 100 from J&K, around 50 from Maharashtra and the rest from UP, Delhi and other places. These pilgrimages are increasing progressively.
  1. Annually, more than 20,000 Iranian tourists visit India, with Delhi-Agra-Jaipur, Mumbai-Pune-Goa and Hyderabad being the most preferred destinations. A large number of Iranian students pursue higher studies in medicine, pharma, engineering, humanities and other courses in India.

Iran’s diplomatic presence in India

  1. In addition to the Embassy in Tehran, India has two Consulates in Iran, one in Bandar Abbas and other in Zahedan. Iran has its Embassy in New Delhi. In addition, Iran has two Consulates (Consul General) in Mumbai and Hyderabad and two Cultural Centres in New Delhi and Mumbai.

August 2020

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High level visits between India and Iran

Prime Ministerial level

Outgoing visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

1.        

Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister

22-23 May 2016

Bilateral

2.        

Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister

28-31 August 2012

To attend the 16th Non-aligned Movement (NAM) summit

3.        

Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister

10-13 April 2001

Bilateral

4.        

Shri Narasimha Rao, Prime Minister

September 1993

Bilateral

5.        

Shri Morarji Desai, Prime Minister

June 1977

Bilateral

6.        

Smt. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister

April 1974

Bilateral

7.        

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister

September 1959

Bilateral

 

Incoming visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

1.        

Dr. Hassan Rouhani, President

15-17 February 2018

Bilateral

2.        

Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President

April 29, 2008

Bilateral

3.        

Mr. Mohammad Khatami, President

24-28 January, 2003

Chief Guest at the Republic Day function

4.        

Mr. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, President

April 1995

Bilateral

5.        

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahalvi

February 1978

Bilateral

6.        

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahalvi

February/March 1956

Bilateral

Vice Presidential level

Outgoing visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

1.        

Shri M. Hamid Ansari, Vice President

04 August 2013

To attend swearing-in ceremony of President Dr. Hassan Rouhani

2.        

Shri K. R. Narayanan, Vice President

October 1996

Bilateral

Incoming visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

1.        

Dr. Mohammad Javad Mohammadizadeh, Vice president and Head of department of Environment

November 2012

11th Conference of Parties (CoP) of UN Convention on Bio-diversity in Hyderabad

Parliamentary exchanges

Outgoing visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

1.        

Smt. Meira Kumar, Speaker of Lok Sabha

November 2011

Bilateral

Incoming visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

1.        

Dr. Ali Larijani, Speaker of Majlis

24-28 February 2013

Bilateral

2.        

Nazar Afsali, Chairman of India-Iran Parliamentary friendship group

26-28 February 2018

Bilateral

Ministerial level

Outgoing visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

1.        

Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar,  External Affairs Minister

22-23 December 2019

To attend 19th India-Iran Joint Commission Meeting (JCM)

2.        

Shri Pon Radhakrishnan, Minister of State for Shipping

2-4 December 2017

To represent India at the inauguration of the Chabahar Port

3.        

Smt. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister

2 December 2017

Bilateral

4.        

Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road, Transport, Highways and Shipping

5 August 2017

To attend swearing-in ceremony of Iranian President Dr. Hassan Rouhani

5.        

Shri M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs

10-12 September 2016

Bilateral

6.        

Smt. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister

16-17 April2016

Bilateral

7.        

Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas

8-10 April 2016

Bilateral

8.        

Smt. Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development

19-21January 2016

Special Guest in the 10th International Energy Management Conference

9.        

Shri. Salman Khurshid, External Affairs Minister

03-05 May 2013

17th India-Iran Joint Commission Meeting (JCM)

10.    

Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister of New and Renewable Energy

March 2012

Bilateral

11.    

Shri S M Krishna, External Affairs Minister

May 15-17, 2010

14th G-15 Summit

12.    

Shri Pranab Mukherjee , External Affairs Minister

July 29-30, 2008

15th NAM Ministerial Conference

13.    

Shri Pranab Mukherjee , External Affairs Minister

February 6-7, 2007

Bilateral

 

Incoming visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

1.        

Dr. Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister

14-17 January 2020

To attend Raisina Dialogue 2020

2.        

Dr. Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister

13-14 May 2019

Bilateral

3.        

Mr. Abbas Akhoundi, Minister of Roads & Urban Development

9-12 January 2019

Bilateral

4.        

Dr. Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister

7-9 January 2019

To attend Raisina Dialogue 2019

5.        

Dr. Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, Minister of Health and Medical Education

12-14 December 2018

Bilateral

6.        

Mr. Abbas Akhoundi, Minister of Roads & Urban Development

6-7 September 2018

Bilateral

7.        

Dr. Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister

28 May 2018

Bilateral

8.        

Mr. Bijan Zangeneh, Minister of Petroleum

11 April 2018

To attend the 16th International Energy Forum in New Delhi

9.        

Mr. Mohammad Jahromi, Minister for Communications and IT

23-24 November 2017

To attend the Global Cyber Conference

10.    

Dr. Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister

4 December  2016

To attend 6th Heart of Asia-Istanbul process Ministerial Conference in Amritsar

11.    

Dr. Abbas Akhoundi, Minister of Transport and Urban Development

27-30 September 2016

Bilateral

12.    

Dr. Ali Tayyebnia, Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance

26-28 December 2015

18th Joint Commission Meeting (JCM)

13.    

Dr. Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister

13-14 August 2015

Bilateral

14.    

Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping

May 5-7 2015

MoU on Chabahar

15.    

Mr. Akbar Torkan, Presidential advisor and Secretary of high Council of Free Zones

12 -15 January 2015

To attend the Vibrant Gujarat Summit

16.    

Dr. Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister

28 February, 2014

Bilateral

17.    

Eng. Majid Namjoo, Minister of Energy

October 2012

To attend the Global Ministerial level “International Seminar on Energy Access”

18.    

Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati, Senior Advisor to Supreme Leader on International Affairs

December 2011

Bilateral

 

NSA/Dy NSA visits

Outgoing visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

1.        

Shri Rajinder Khanna, Dy. NSA

18 December 2019

To attend 2nd Six nation NSA talks

2.        

Shri Ajit Doval, NSA

26 September 2018

To attend 1st Six nation NSA talks

Secretary level

Outgoing visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

1.        

Shri Vijay Gokhale, Foreign Secretary

16 September 2019

16th Foreign Office Consultations (FoCs)

2.        

Shri Gopal Krishna, Secretary (Shipping)

26 February 2019

To attend Chabahar Day Event 2019

3.        

Shri T.S. Tirumurti, Secretary (ER)

23-24 October 2018

1st Coordination Council Meeting on Trilateral Transit Agreement between Afghanistan, India & Iran (Chabahar Agreement)

4.        

Shri Alok Srivastava, Special Secretary (Shipping)

3-6 September 2017

6th Joint Committee Meeting on Ports and Maritime Cooperation

5.        

Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary

16-17 May 2017

14th Foreign Office Consultations (FoCs)

6.        

Rajiv Kumar, Secretary (Shipping)

November 31- December 2, 2015

Regarding Chabahar Port project

7.        

Shri Rajeev Mehrishi, Finance Secretary

25-26 July 2015

Bilateral

8.        

Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary

June 13-14, 2015

Foreign Office Consultations (FoCs)

9.        

Smt. Nirupama Rao, Foreign Secretary

July 2011

9th Foreign Office Consultations (FoCs)

Incoming visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

1.        

Mr. Abbas Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister

16 July 2018

15th Foreign Office Consultations (FoCs)

2.        

Mr. Ebrahim Rahimpour, Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Pacific Affairs

25 November 2013

11th Foreign Office Consultations (FoCs)

3.        

Dr. Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Oceania

October 2012

10th Foreign Office Consultations (FoCs)

Think Tanks/Others

Outgoing visits

Sl. No.

Name of dignitary

Duration

Purpose of visit

3.        

Dr. T.C.A. Raghavan, Director General (ICWA)

12-13 October 2019

ICWA-IPIS Dialogue

4.        

Shri Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, President ,ICCR

3 December 2018

Bilateral

5.        

Shri Jayant Prasad, Director General, IDSA

23-26July 2016

Bilateral

6.        

 Shri Vinod Rai, Comptroller and Auditor General of India

June 2012

Bilateral, at the invitation of Supreme Audit Court of Iran (SAC)