China-brokered Iran-Saudi Arabia deal will benefit India’s interests: Iranian envoy

New Delhi: The surprise announcement on the deal had taken the diplomatic circles in New Delhi by surprise

BY | Friday, 17 March, 2023
Location of Iran and Saudi Arabia/ Wikimedia commons.

The China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to revive diplomatic ties should not be a matter of concern for India as the pact would provide regional stability and would be beneficial for New Delhi’s interests as well, Iranian ambassador Iraj Elahi said on Friday.

Under the deal, Iran and Saudi Arabia last week announced the full-fledged restoration of their diplomatic relations, seven years after severing the ties following a bitter row.

“I think it (the agreement) should not be a concern for India. It would be of benefit to India since it would help and intensify the stability and peace in the Persian Gulf region,” the envoy told a group of journalists.

“So it would be of benefit to India despite what has been done at the mediation of China,” he said.

The surprise announcement on the deal had taken the diplomatic circles in New Delhi by surprise.

Elahi said peace and stability in the Gulf region will benefit the Indian diaspora as well, besides resulting in greater economic engagement that would include India’s trade ties with various countries in the region.

India on Thursday welcomed the pact, saying it has always advocated dialogue and diplomacy to resolve differences.

“We have seen the reports in this regard. India has good relations with various countries in West Asia. We have deep abiding interests in that region,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

“India has always advocated dialogue and diplomacy as a way to resolve differences,” Bagchi said, without mentioning China’s role.

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Asked whether Tehran is looking for investments in Iran by Riyadh under the deal, Elahi said it is expecting expansion of trade ties with both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We are looking forward to investments not only from Saudi Arabia, but also from the UAE. We believe that the region is at a critical point. The whole region — Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and different Arab states — have an understanding now that it would be beneficial to them to bridge the gap among themselves and plan for the future,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia has a huge economy. It is a member of G20 and has enough money to invest in Iran, but it is too soon to judge the issue,” Elahi said.

On the Chabahar port, the envoy said Iran believes that the Indian government has a positive approach towards it.

“Of course there are shortcomings from both sides. We understand the willingness of the Indian government towards Chabahar. We believe that Chabahar is not just an economic issue,” he said.

The ambassador said there is a need to view the Chabahar port project as a strategic engagement and not just as an economic partnership.

“For India, Chabahar is important. For Iran also, it is important. But Iran has different ports in all parts of the Persian Gulf. We can use different ports for transit and import and export. But Chabahar is an oceanic port. It is close to the Indian Ocean and closest to the route to Afghanistan,” he said.

Read more: India and Iran agree on continued cooperation on Chabahar port

The Iranian ambassador said there is a need to look at Chabahar beyond economic perspectives.

“Because of this importance, the speed of cooperation, the speed of progress and the speed of promotion in Chabahar should be faster than what it is now. It is important for India as well as Iran. It will be for our benefit,” he said.

Located in Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Iran’s southern coast, the Chabahar port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost connectivity and trade ties.

At a connectivity conference in Tashkent in 2021, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar projected the Chabahar port as a key regional transit hub, including to Afghanistan.

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