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President Serzh Sarkisian called for greater Indian investments in Armenia’s economy when he met with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a visit to New Delhi on Friday.

He was also reported to tell Modi that Armenia is “strongly interested in deepening relations with India in all areas” and giving new impetus to “centuries Indian-Armenian friendship.”

A statement by Sarkisian’s press office also quoted him as saying that the Armenian government is ready to create “favorable conditions” for Indian investors. He suggested that they take advantage of a free economic zone which is due to be created on Armenia’s border with Iran by the end of this year. Indian firms setting up shop there would have duty-free access to the “huge market” of Russia and other Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) member states, added Sarkisian.

According to the statement, Modi and Sarkisian discussed possibilities of “active cooperation” between the two nations in various sectors such as agriculture, food processing, information technology, tourism and diamond processing.

On Wednesday, Modi’s cabinet approved a draft Indian-Armenian agreement on “cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters.” “The Agreement will help in the availability of relevant information for the prevention and investigation of Customs offences,” it said in a statement. “It is also expected to facilitate trade and ensure efficient clearance of goods traded between the countries.”

The volume of Armenian-Indian trade is very modest at present.

The Indian ambassador in Yerevan, Yogeshwar Sangwan, described political ties between the two countries as “excellent” when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in June. “Even in the area of defense, we are open to cooperation with Armenia,” he said.

An Armenian Defense Ministry delegation visited India in May for talks with senior Indian defense officials. The ministry said afterwards that the two sides reached unspecified agreements on “military-technical” cooperation and joint training programs between the two militaries.

Modi was cited by the Armenian presidential press office as calling Armenia India’s “reliable and important partner in the Eurasian region.”

India’s arch-foe Pakistan staunchly supports Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, refusing to not only establish diplomatic relations with Armenia but also formally recognize the latter as an independent state.

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