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Modi meets Iran President Hassan​ Rouhani

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in their first meeting amid hopes of an international deal on Tehran’s nuclear programme being hammered out that would raise India’s imports of Iranian oil.

Modi, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday evening, held his first bilateral meet on Thursday with Rouhani on the sidelines of the BRICS and SCO summits.

India had majorly dropped its crude imports from Iran under US pressure to limit its purchases of oil from the Islamic republic over Iran’s nuclear programme.

However, India’s oil imports from Iran began from May amid promise of a nuclear deal being arrived at between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

India, the world’s fourth biggest oil consumer and among the top importers of Iranian oil, shipped in 367,900 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude in May, up 39 percent over April, according to media reports.

Essar Oil, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd., and Indian Oil Corp. are the Indian refiners that buy oil from Iran.

The Modi-Rouhani meeting comes as India is moving fast ahead with developing the strategic Iranian port of Chabahar, seen by India as offering an alternative route to landlocked Afghanistan and beyond to resource-rich Central Asia.

The Chabahar port on the Gulf of Oman is 72 km from Pakistan’s Chinese-constructed port of Gwadar. It has the capacity to handle 2.5 million tonnes a year, which Iran would like to increase to 12.5 million tonnes.

Modi in his talks in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan has proposed linking the Chabahar port with the International North-South Transport Corridor that proposes to link up Mumbai with St Petersburg in Russia.

Earlier in the day, Modi also interacted with Indian CEOs and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Modi is in Ufa to attend the seventh BRICS summit and the 15th SCO summit. India is set to be made permanent member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

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