Your Excellency Dr. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Your Excellency Dr. Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Ladies and Gentlemen
A famous poet of Persia, Hafez once said:
[Meaning: Days of separation are over; night of wait is coming to an end;Our friendship will stay forever.]
Today, 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.Today, we seek to fulfil it.We are grateful to Excellency Rouhani for hosting this unique event.Thank you President Ashraf Ghani, for your presence. It truly holds a special significance.It is a privilege to be here.Excellency Rouhani, President Ghani and I have just held detailed discussions on a range of issues.The agenda for economic engagement is a clear priority for us. 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 chapter for the region.
Iran, Afghanistan and India are deeply aware of the richness and reality of our ancient links.Through centuries, art and culture, ideas and knowledge, language and traditions have formed a common bond between us. Even through turmoil of history, our societies never lost touch with each other. Today, we meet to write new chapters in our engagement.
The Agreement on the establishment of a Trilateral Transport and Transit Corridor signed just a while ago can alter the course of history of this region. It is a new foundation of convergence between our three nations. 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 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 tiesare 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.
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 nationsare 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.
It is my strong belief that trade and transit routes should only be a starting point of our journey to greater connectivity.In my vision, the full spectrum of connectivity agenda between Iran, Afghanistan and India should span:
In a way, it is a pledge to:
History will look back at this effort with nothing but approval and admiration.
I compliment Excellencies Rouhani and Ghani for their leadership in guiding this effort.
Thank you all. Thank you very much.
May 23, 2016