Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian will be in India on Monday

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian will visit India on Monday, his first visit to the country since taking office last year.

The top Iranian diplomat arrives in Delhi late on Sunday and will meet with his Indian counterpart, Foreign Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Monday. The minister then leaves for Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

When he took over as the new Iran FM last year, he had several conversations with his Indian counterpart, Dr S Jaishankar, on several occasions. The two ministers spoke on January 8 on a number of issues, including Afghanistan. The Iranian side has offered to transfer India’s humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, including wheat and medicine to the country.

He is also the first foreign minister to visit India this year, where in-person visits have slowed due to the Omicron variant crisis.

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Connectivity, with emphasis on Chabahar port, trade, Afghanistan remains a priority during the talks in Delhi. India is developing the first phase of Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar. After the start of operations at Chabahar Port in December 2018, the port handled over 8,200 TEUs and 1.28 million tonnes of bulk cargo.

Meanwhile, on Afghanistan, since the Taliban takeover, Delhi and Tehran have been in regular contact with each other. The Iranian Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, Ali Shamkhani, had visited India in November to participate in the Delhi regional security dialogue on Afghanistan.

Read also | Iran blames US for slow talks between Tehran and world powers

Amid the Covid crisis, there have been regular exchanges with New Delhi sending supplies of Covaxin covid vaccine to the country. The visit comes even as talks are taking place in Vienna to reinstate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Ahead of the visit, Iran FM sent greetings on India’s Republic Day. He said, “will continue to work to expand the full relationship, bilaterally, regionally and in international forums.”

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The Iranian foreign minister’s visit to Colombo comes a month after the two sides reached a pact under which Sri Lanka pays the oil import bill with tea. The tea for oil deal, as it is called, will see Sri Lanka settle a $251 million oil import duty by sending $5 million worth of tea to Iran which has been pending for 4 years.

The pact saves foreign currency in Sri Lanka even as economic worries mount for the country. The visit to India and Sri Lanka comes days after the Iranian foreign minister visited Russia and China for talks with his counterparts. The implementation of the 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement between Iran and China was announced during FM Hossein’s visit to the country.