Iran President India

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (right) delivers a speech to Muslims leaders and scholars as Iran Foreign Affairs Minister Mahamad Javad Zarief (left) listens at a meeting in Hyderabad on Feb. 15. The Iranian President is on a three-day official visit to India. (Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)

HYDERABAD — Iran’s president said Feb. 15 that his country was ready to help promote dialogue as a way to end bloodshed in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Hassan Rouhani made the comments to a group of Muslim religious scholars in the in southern Indian city of Hyderabad shortly after his arrival for a three-day India visit.

Rouhani will meet Feb. 17 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

Rouhani accused western countries of sowing discord among different sects of Muslims.

He called for unity between the Sunni and Shia sects of Muslims.

“The Shias, Sunnis and people of other ethnicities coexisted peacefully in Iraq and Syria for centuries until the West created a discord there,” Rouhani said.

Rouhani’s visit comes as U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to scuttle an international deal reached with Iran in 2015 over its nuclear program that ended economic sanctions imposed on the country.

This poses a challenge for India, which is helping Iran develop the Chabahar Port for trade with Afghanistan.

In 2016, India, Afghanistan and Iran decided to establish a trade route for land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. India committed up to $500 million for the development of the Chabahar Port along with associated roads and rail lines.

India shipped its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through the Chabahar Port in October last year.

Iran’s bilateral trade with Iran in 2017-18 was around $12.89 billion, with India importing mainly crude oil and exporting commodities.

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