Tehran: Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi today said that the agenda for economic engagement is a clear priority for India, Iran and Afghanistan.
Modi was addressing a Trilateral meeting hosted by the President of Iran Hassan Rouhani. He said: “We stand together in unity of our purpose. To carve out new routes of peace, and prosperity is our common goal. We want to link with the world. But, better connectivity among ourselves is also our priority. It is indeed a new dawn for the region.”
Today, the Indian Prime Minister said, “we are all witnessing creation of history. Not just for the people of our three countries, but for the entire region. To build bonds of connectivity is the most basic of human urges.”
Expressing his gratitude to President Rouhani for hosting this unique event, Modi also thanked President of Afghanistan Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, for his presence. He said that it was a privilege to be there and expressed satisfaction over the detailed discussions he had with President Rouhani and President Ghani on a range of issues.
Modi said that Iran, Afghanistan and India are deeply aware of the richness and reality of their ancient links. Through centuries, art and culture, ideas and knowledge, language and traditions have formed a common bond between people in this region. Even through turmoil of history, our societies never lost touch with each other, he said adding today we meet to write new chapters in our engagement.
The Indian Prime Minister said that the Agreement on the establishment of a Trilateral Transport and Transit Corridor signed today can alter the course of history of this region. It is a new foundation of convergence between our three nations, he said asserting that the corridor would spur unhindered flow of commerce throughout the region. Inflow of capital and technology could lead to new industrial infrastructure in Chahbahar. This would include gas based fertilizer plants, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and IT. The key arteries of the corridor would pass through the Chahbahar port of Iran. It’s very location, on the mouth of Gulf of Oman, is of great strategic significance. Afghanistan will get an assured, effective, and a more friendly route to trade with the rest of the world. The arc of economic benefit from this agreement would extend beyond our three nations. Its reach could extend to the depths of the Central Asian countries. When linked with the International North South Transport Corridor, it would touch South Asia at one end and Europe at another. And, studies show that as compared to the traditional sea routes, it could bring down the cost and time of the cargo trade to Europe by about 50%. Over time, we could even look to connect it with the strong sea and land based routes that India has developed with the Indian Ocean Region and South East Asia.
The Indian Prime Minister further said that the world of 21st century offers unique opportunities. But, it also poses its own set of challenges. Today, the nature of global engagement requires an attitude more suitable to this century, not the mindset of the century gone by. Today, the watch-words of international ties are trust not suspicion; cooperation not dominance; inclusivity not exclusion. This is also the guiding philosophy and driving spirit of the Chahbahar Agreement. This will be a corridor of peace and prosperity for our peoples. Motives of economic growth, and empowerment would drive it. It will build our security without making others vulnerable. It would break barriers among our nations and encourage new benchmarks of people-to-people contacts. And, help us to eventually build what we all desire and deserve – a friendly and healthy neighbourhood.
Modi went on to point out that the world around us is changing in fundamental ways. And, the lack of comprehensive connectivity is not the only challenge that limits our national growth. Political turmoil and undercurrents of economic stress continue to spread in West Asia. In the Indo-Pacific,rise a mix of political competition and economic opportunities is putting pressure on the existing Asian order. Global economy is yet to fully come out of uncertainty and weakness. Our present growth and future prosperity is under threat from the spread of radical ideas and physical terror. Amidst this landscape, our three countries are blessed with the most potent resource—our youth. Our three nations are estimated to have more than 60 percent of their population under 30 years of age. They are an asset in our national and regional development. We want them to walk the road to knowledge and skills; industry and enterprise. And, not fall victim to the path of guns and violence. I am confident that economic fruits of the Chahbahar Agreement will expand trade, attract investment, build infrastructure, develop industry and create jobs for our youth. The Agreement will strengthen our ability to stand in mutual support against those whose only motto is to maim and kill the innocents. Its success will be a positive vote for peace and stability in the region.
Modi underscored his strong belief that trade and transit routes should only be a starting point of the journey to greater connectivity. The full spectrum of connectivity agenda between Iran, Afghanistan and India should span:
• from culture to commerce;
• from traditions to technology;
• from Investments to IT;
• from services to strategy; and
• from people to politics.
In a way, it is a pledge to:
• Realize the imperative of better connectivity;
• Establish peace and create stability;
• Build economic prosperity and engineer new trade ties;
• Curb radicalism and remove shadows of terror; and
• Break barriers and spread sweetness of familiarity among our people.
History will look back at this effort with nothing but approval and admiration, Modi observed as he complimented Rouhani and Ghani for their leadership in guiding this effort.