India will soon send a delegation to Iran to discuss upgradation of the strategically important Chabahar port and the two sides will begin negotiations on a trilateral transit agreement to ship goods to the landlocked Afghanistan.
The two issues were part of discussions between Vice President Hamid Ansari and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani soon after his swearing-in ceremony yesterday here, senior officials told reporters.
India had held discussions with Iran on the Chabahar port during External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's visit here in May.
A delegation led by Director General, Shipping from India will soon go to Tehran to discuss the details of the project, they said.
The Government had given in-principal clearance for Indian participation in the project and negotiations will begin soon to work out cost and other issues along with the proposed transit agreement.
The transit agreement involves India, Iran and Afghanistan.
The upgradation process is expected to take two or more years, Khurshid had said.
Chabahar port is strategically crucial as it gives access route to Afghanistan. Chabahar port, which is surrounded by a free trade zone, is vital particularly since Pakistan does not allow transit facility from India to Afghanistan.
During the meeting with Rouhani, Ansari said India wants to work closely with its near neighbour.
India and Iran have long economic ties where oil is the biggest item of Indian import from Iran. But India feels there is a lot of scope for increasing Indian exports to the Persian country particularly in pharmaceuticals and food.
However, efforts to enhance trade have been facing hurdles because of sanctions imposed by the UN and European Union, which make payment difficult.
There are also problems like re-insurance of oil refineries and transportation of consignment from Iran because of the sanctions.