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President Rouhani, valuable friend of India: Ex FM

New Delhi, India's former Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is a very valuable friend of India.

In an exclusive interview with tue Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on the occasion of the visit of the on-going Iranian President to India, the veteran politician said India warmly welcomes Rouhani, stressing that his trip will have great results for both countries.

'We had very good contacts with Iran and the people of Iran,' said the former foreign minister on India-Iran relations. Iran has a very rich culture and great Persian poets like Hafiz are very valuable.

Khurshid said India has received a lot of support from Iran and as a good friend of India. 'When Iran was also in difficult times due to sanctions, India tried to protect Iran. Although India followed sanctions issued by the United Nations, New Delhi tried to steer away from US sanctions against Iran.'

Khurshid added, 'Iran and India have a very large and important trade and business relationship. Iran supplies oil and gas to India, and the two countries have the capacity to expand these relations. A large number of Indian and Iranian students study in two countries.'

'In recent years, there have been many differences in the Middle East, which have led to the creation of radical ideas in the region,' he said on the foreign policy of India and Iran.

Iran has been in a very difficult position and has been trying to secure its own interests. India has good relations with all countries and has tried to prevent the differences reach an irreversible point. In this regard, India's relations with Iran have always been important. India has always supported Iran.

'Maintaining relations with Iran is very important for India,' Khurshid said, 'as India tries to secure its position on the global map amidst very rapid transformation of global developments such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, Middle Eastern wars, the expansion of the Chinese economy, and so on.'

On the subject of India-Iran cooperation, the prominent Indian diplomat said that the two countries have great opportunities to expand their business including in gas, oil, food, machinery and technology, and academic relationships. 'We hope that cooperation with Iran will continue. We want peace to return to the Middle East, and Iran should not be pressured again by particular countries.'

'Iran's nuclear deal with Western countries was a very important deal with very good results,' Salman Khorshid said on Iran's agreement with world powers. 'India had foreseen this agreement. We hope that good actions of Iran will succeed in communicating with other countries, and the United States administration under Donald Trump will recognize the benefits of good relations with Iran for both countries as well as the rest of the world.'

President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Hyderabad, India, Thursday evening to hold meetings with highest ranking Indian officials and sign documents on Iran-India trade and commerce cooperation.

According to IRNA correspondent in Hyderabad, the visit is taking place at the official invitation of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who also visited Iran last year.

The president is accompanied with the Iranian Ministers of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif, Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh, Road and Urban Development Mohammad Akhundi, Industry Mohammad Shariatmadari and also Minister of Finance Masoud Karbassian.

A large delegation from Iranian private sector businessmen and trade people are also in India as part of the president's delegation.

Upon his arrival to the southern Indian city, Rouhani was welcomed by the Governor of Telangana state, Iranian Ambassador to India Gholamreza Ansari and Iran's Consul General in Hyderabad Mohammad Haqbin.

A large group of Iranians residing in the city also gathered in the airport to give the Iranian president and his delegation a warm and enthusiastic welcome to Hyderabad.

Rouhani is to sign about 15 documents in trade and economic sectors with Indian officials. The two sides will also issue a statements on political issues as well. Iran and India will also sign documents on consular services sector including of easier visa issuance regulations.

While in Hyderabad, the President met with Muslim Ulema and will deliver a speech to Friday Prayers congregation on Friday.

On Saturday, he will travel to the capital New Delhi where he is to receive an official welcome by the highest ranking Indian officials.

He will meet and confer with Indian President Ram Nath Konvid, Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.

He will also take part in Iran-India economic gathering.

Iran and India, as two ancient and major civilizations, enjoy thousands of years of sound and solid friendly relations. The relations between the two countries has especially flourished in recent years with India taking part in the development project of the Iranian port of Chabahar on Oman Sea coast which gives New Delhi access to Afghanistan and Central Asia markets and Europe as well.

India is also to contribute in construction of a railway project which will connect Chabahar at Oman Sea to the provincial capital Zahedan.

Iran is a major supplier of India's oil demands.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency

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