SCO summit: PM Modi, Iranian Prez Rouhani unable to meet due to scheduling issues
Bishkek, June 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani could not hold a planned meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit here due to scheduling issues, official sources said. According to a schedule put out by the External Affairs Ministry, Modi was to meet Rouhani at 3:35 PM (local time).
As banquet for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) leaders got extended, the two leaders could not meet, sources said.
Modi arrived here in the Kyrgyz capital on Thursday on a two-day visit to attend the annual summit of the SCO. He held bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Modi also held talks with Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov on Friday during a bilateral visit during which the two countries upgraded their relations to strategic ties.
It was expected that Modi and Rouhani would discuss a range of issues including the US sanctions on import of Iranian oil and implementation of the Chabahar port project. The meeting was keenly awaited as it was to take place amid escalating face-off between Iran and the United States on Tehran's nuclear programme. The six-month-long exemptions from US sanctions to India and seven other countries to buy oil from Iran expired on May 2 as Washington did not extend it.
Early last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited India in the wake of the US decision to not continue the exemptions to India and other countries. In her meeting with Zarif, the then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj conveyed to him that India will take a decision on the import of Iranian oil after the Lok Sabha polls, keeping in mind its commercial, economic and energy security interests. India, the world's third biggest oil consumer, meets more than 80 per cent of its oil needs through imports.
Iran was its third largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia till recently. Indo-Iran ties have been on a upswing in the past few years. Prime Minister Modi visited Tehran in May 2016 with an aim to craft a strategic relationship with Iran and expand India's ties with the West Asia.
During the visit, India and Iran signed nearly a dozen agreements, centrepiece of which was a deal on development of the strategic Chabahar port. Later, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement providing for transport of goods among the three countries through the port.