Senior diplomats from Armenia, India and Iran explored the possibility of creating a new transnational transport corridor during first-ever trilateral talks held in Yerevan, capital of Armenia on April 20 2023.
The delegations were led by Mnatsakan Safaryan, the deputy foreign minister of Armenia, Seyed Rasoul Mousavi, the assistant of the foreign minister of Iran, and JP Singh, the joint secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs of India according to Armenia’s Foreign Ministry.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said that they discussed “issues relating to regional communication routes” and broader “prospects for trilateral cooperation in various fields.”
“The parties agreed to continue the trilateral consultations aimed at closer cooperation,” it said in a statement.
The three countries have decided to “continue consultations” in the format, the readout explained. The trilateral meeting discussed the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a freight corridor connecting India, Iran, and Russia, aimed at reducing costs and time in the movement of goods from Mumbai to Moscow. The INSTC agreement was signed by Russia, Iran, and India in 2002 and has since expanded.
Bilateral relations between the three countries have been robust, with high-level engagement in recent times. Both Armenian foreign and defense ministers have visited India, with the Armenian foreign minister, Ararat Mirzoyan, visiting India in March 2023, the Minister of Defence Suren Papikyan visiting in April 2022, and EAM Jaishankar visiting the country in October 2021.
Meeting in Yerevan in October 2021 set the tone for boosting ties between the two countries, EAM Jaishankar and his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan called for an Armenian-Indian transport link that would pass through Iran and its Chabahar cargo port in particular.
Mirzoyan also suggested after the 2021 talks with Jaishankar that Indian companies use Chabahar for cargo shipments to not only Armenia but also neighboring Georgia, Russia and even Europe. India has built and operates two terminals at the Gulf of Oman port to bypass Pakistan in cargo traffic with Iran, Afghanistan and central Asian countries.
India and Iran also have historic ties, with the two countries sharing a common cultural heritage. The Chabahar port in Iran has been key to connectivity between the two sides. India has provided equipment worth $25 million to aid in the development of the port, including six mobile harbor cranes.
The port has the potential to serve as a gateway for India to access Central Asia and Afghanistan, while also providing Iran with an alternative trade route to the Persian Gulf. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is expected to travel to India in July to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a full-fledged member of the grouping.
Iran and Armenia, which share a border, also have robust ties. Last year, Iran opened a consulate in Armenia’s Kapan. The two countries have also been working together to enhance trade and economic cooperation with Armenia serving as a transit route for Iran to access the Eurasian Economic Union.
India’s strategic autonomy approach is well reflected here. India is working with Iran and also roping in Russia in its connectivity projects in the region, showing that India is keeping its aspirations above the beaten path of abiding the western sanctions.
This regional cooperation is going to strengthen the Asian and Eurasian regions of the world. The trilateral grouping between India, Iran, and Armenia is expected to pave the way for greater cooperation in a range of areas, including trade, investment, energy, and transportation.