New Delhi: Iran's Ambassador to India, Iraj Elahi, on Friday emphasized that connectivity is the backbone of the India-Iran relationship, adding that culturally both the countries have agreed to strengthen relations.

Ahead of the presidential elections in Iran, the envoy said that the two nations have signed different agreements.

"We have signed different agreements. We have defined different fields for cooperation. Connectivity is the main part of our relation and culturally, we both countries have agreed to strengthen relation," the envoy said.

He further expressed confidence that the new president of Iran will bring new energy and will energize the bilateral relations between the two countries.

When asked about the major sectors in which both countries will focus going forward in the future, Elahi said, "Connectivity is the backbone of our relation. India is a rising power. Rising power means that this country has to first of all diversify its route to the international market. Secondly, it needs safe, short, cheap routes to the markets."

He added that the cooperation between the two countries will be strengthened with the initiatives taken by the Indian government.

"We are witnessing different initiations by the Indian government which India was the initiator of this. We believe that through different projects which have been defined by the two countries the relation and cooperation of the two countries will be strengthened," he said.

The envoy reiterated India's initiatives in which it agreed to open a credit line for USD 250 million for the infrastructural projects in Iran.

Moreover, he also noted that India agreed to invest USD 120 million according to the Chabahar Port.

"India has agreed to open a credit line for about USD 250 million for the implementation of infrastructural projects in the southeast of Iran. Besides this, according to the Chabahar port contract, India has accepted to invest USD 120 million. Besides this, we are witnessing that the attention of Indian investors toward Iran is increasing," he said.

The Chabahar Port is an India-Iran flagship project that serves as an important transit port for trade with Afghanistan. India has been a key player in the development and operation of Chabahar Port.

As India and Iran signed a long-term contract for operating the Shahid-Beheshti Port Terminal in the presence of Indian and Iranian ministers, it is pertinent to note that the Chabahar port pact deal inked between the two nations will not only enhance regional connectivity but will also facilitate trade, particularly between India, Iran and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

The Long-Term Bilateral Contract on Chabahar Port Operation was signed between Indian Ports Global Limited (IPGL) of India and the Port & Maritime Organisation (PMO) of Iran, enabling the operation of Shahid-Behesti in the Chabahar Port Development Project for a period of 10 years.

"Last year, during recent months, more than USD 120 million was invested by Indian citizens in Iran in different sectors, especially in mining and industry," he added.

He said that these initiatives, "shows that despite the sanctions, the Indian economy, and Indian entrepreneurs have understood the importance of Iran and its potential."

Elahi said that Iran is trying to prepare the legal base of this cooperation to pave and prepare good and useful ground for the Indian and Iranian investors.

Besides this, tourism is another sector, Elahi said, adding, "We recently exempted...Indian passport holders. Those who hold an Indian passport from a visa of Iran can just buy a ticket, and fly to Iran."

"...We are trying to increase the attention of Iranian tourists toward India. Recently after COVID-19, the number of Iranian tourists traveling to India has increased. We are encouraging them," he added.

The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a multi-modal transportation route linking the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran and onward to northern Europe via St Petersburg in Russia.

The INSTC envisages the movement of goods from Mumbai (India) to Shahid Beheshti Port - Chabahar (Iran) by sea, from Chabahar to Bandar-e-Anzali (an Iranian port on the Caspian Sea) by road, and then from Bandar-e- Anzali to Astrakhan (a Caspian port in the Russian Federation) by ship across the Caspian Sea, and after that from Astrakhan to other regions of the Russian Federation and further into Europe by Russian railways.

Iran's Ambassador to India, Iraj Elahi, on Friday, cast his vote in the second phase of the presidential election of Iran at a polling center here in New Delhi, as voting remains underway in Iran to elect the successor of former President Ebrahim Raisi.

Elahi said that he is hopeful that Iran will get its new President by tomorrow.

The presidential elections have come as Iran lost its serving president Ebrahim Raisi, in a helicopter crash on May 19.

Iran's presidential runoff comes as Iran registered a low voter turnout in the first round, with 39.92 per cent confirmed by the Interior Ministry. It was the lowest in any major election since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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