India on Monday signed 12 agreements with Iran including a pact to operate a strategic port in Chabahar in the Persian Gulf nation's southern coast."Chabahar can become very big symbol of co-operation between Iran and India," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a joint press conference with PM Narendra Modi after signing of agreements in Tehran.

"Chabahar Port can serve as a point of connectivity between different countries, specially India and Afghanistan," the Iran President said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India and Iran are not new friends. "Our dosti is as old as history," PM Modi said. "The outcomes and agreements signed today open a new chapter in our strategic partnership," the PM said.

Modi said that India and Iran exchanged views on the emerging regional situation and global issues of common concern. "The agreement to develop Chabahar port for which India will provide $500 million is a key milestone," the PM said.PM Modi said India and Iran will consult each other closely and regularly on combating threats of terrorism, radicalism, drug trafficking and cyber crime.

India will invest billions of dollars in setting up industries - ranging from aluminum smelter to urea plants - in Iran's Chabahar free trade zone. The inking of commercial contract to build and run the strategic port of Chabahar will help India gain a foothold in Iran and win access to Afghanistan, Russia and Europe, thus circumventing Pakistan, road transport, highways and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari said. "The distance between Kandla and the Chabahar port is less than the distance between New Delhi and Mumbai, and so what this agreement does is to enable us quick movement of goods first to Iran and then onwards to Afghanistan and Russia through a new rail and road link," he explained.