TEHRAN: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in Iran today on a two-day visit to boost ties with a focus on raising India’s oil imports and enhancing trade with the powerful Persian Gulf nation which has opened several lucrative sectors after sanctions against it were lifted under a historic nuclear deal.
The visit by Swaraj to the oil-richcountrycomesamidarush for investment in the resource-rich nation by global economic powers including Japan, China, the US and several European countries after Iran invited foreign companies for joint ventures in many of its crucial sectorsincludingoilandgas.
India has been eyeing deeper energy ties with Iran and has already lined up USD 20 billion as investment in oil and gas as well as in petrochemical and fertiliser sectors there.
Swaraj’s visit is seen as a balancing act by India as it came nearly two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Saudi Arabia, another West Asian power which considers Iran its rival.
Iran is an important country for India for its energy security as well as to get access to oil and gas-rich Central Asian nations.
India imports close to 12 million tonnes of crude from Iran and it is looking at increasing the oil import from the country.
Swaraj will hold extensive talks with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif tomorrow during which entire gamut of bilateral relations will be reviewed with a major focus on ramping up ties in energy, trade and banking sectors.