Iran, India sign documents to enhance bilateral ties

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Underlining the deep and ancient cultural and historical ties between the two nations, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran presented Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an animated version of Kalila Wa Demna (Farsi translation of the Panchtantra) and a copy of the Mahabharata in Farsi before they began delegation-level talks in New Delhi on Saturday.

"With a view to fully utilize the potential of the Chabahar Port and its connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia, India conveyed its readiness to support the development of Chabahar- Zahedan Rail line", the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, in a joint statement.

"Iran and India have a common stance on confronting terrorism and extremism, and we are determined to confront terrorism and extremism through culture and the exchange of information and experience", he said in a statement to the media.

During the talks between the two leaders, India is also believed to have briefed Iran about the role of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in attempts to destabilise the situation in Kashmir.

Modi congratulated Rouhani for his leadership in the development of the "golden gateway" of Chabahar port in Iran that has boosted connectivity to landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. They stressed that terrorism can not and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or ethnic group.

On Afghanistan, the two countries said, "Both sides stressed that the interests of peace and stability in the region are best served by a strong, united, prosperous, pluralistic, democratic and independent Afghanistan while supporting the National Unity Government in the country". As part of this effort, Indology courses will be made available for Iranian diplomats by the Foreign Service Institute of India while support will be provided for Persian language courses in India. "Both sides reiterated their commitment for early and full operationalisation of ShahidBeheshti Port at Chabahar".

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Apart from the one on connectivity, the other agreements signed included double taxation avoidance, an instrument of ratification that that brings into effect the extradition agreement that the two sides had signed in 2008 and cooperation in the areas of health, traditional systems of medicine and agriculture and allied sectors and establishment of an expert group on trade remedy measures.

Heading a big political and economic delegation, Rouhani arrived in New Delhi Feb. 15 on a three-day visit to strengthen trade and economic ties with India.

According to Mittal, the two sides discussed taking energy cooperation beyond the buyer-seller relationship.

On convergence of views between the two sides on key issues, Rouhani said, "On all major bilateral, regional and worldwide issues, we did not disagree on even a single topic".

Modi and Rouhani also released a joint postage stamp depicting the Kandla port in India and the Chabahar port. This is the first presidential visit from Iran to India in 10 years.

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