Iran President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Hyderabad on a three-day India visit on Thursday. The Iranian leader landed at the Begumpet Airport where Union Minister of State for Power R K Singh welcomed him. Rouhani’s tour comes a month after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited India.
Rouhani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are set to engage in bilateral talks on Saturday.
“Rouhani is scheduled to address Muslim intellectuals, scholars and clerics at 6.30 pm,” an official source was quoted as saying by PTI. Shailendra Kumar Joshi, the Telangana Chief Secretary, had on Wednesday directed officials of different departments to make a foolproof arrangements for the Iranian President’s visit.
The visit – to Hyderabad and New Delhi – is scheduled from February 15 to 17. This is Rouhani’s first visit to India after he was elected Iran’s President in 2013. A moderate face of the regime, he was re-elected last year for a second term.
Rouhani will also have meetings with President Ram Nath Kovind and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Rouhani’s visit, exactly a month after Netanyahu’s, is seen as India’s act of balancing the relationship in the west Asian region. Iran and Israel have a strained relationship, but since India has “strategic interests” with both countries, government officials said that New Delhi needs to carefully balance bilateral ties with both.
On top of the agenda will be early operationalisation of the Chabahar port, which is strategically located in Iran and gives India access to landlocked Afghanistan.
In early December last year, India had sent a minister for the inauguration of the first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar. Rouhani had presided over the event.
India hosting Rouhani, and its commitment to push forward the Chabahar project, will also test the country’s bilateral ties with the US, which, under the Donald Trump administration, has threatened to impose sanctions on Iran.
Rouhani is accompanied by 21 delegates. During his two-day visit to the city, he will interact with the Iranians settled in Hyderabad, PTI quoted sources as saying.
After offering Friday prayers, Rouhani will address a congregation at the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. Religious scholars from different schools of thought will also participate in the session.
He is also scheduled to visit the Salar Jung Museum on Friday. He will leave for New Delhi on Friday where formal bilateral talks will take place between the two countries. Both India and Iran are set to discuss regional and international issues of mutual interest. Both sides would also review the progress achieved in bilateral relations, the External Affairs Ministry had said earlier.
This will be Rouhani’s second visit to Hyderabad. He had come to India as the national security adviser to Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami, when they visited India from January 24-28, 2003 as the chief guest at the Republic Day parade and had met then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Both sides signed “The New Delhi Declaration”, which set forth the vision of strategic partnership between the countries.