Amid raging controversy over more than a dozen Islamic countries condemning comments by former BJP spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal, for which they were respectively suspended and expelled by the party, Iranian minister Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held talks with Foreign Minister S Jaishankar in Delhi during his first official visit on Wednesday.
The Iranian minister also visited Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. Welcoming him, Modi “warmly recalled the long-standing civilizational and cultural ties between India and Iran” and discussed ongoing bilateral cooperation initiatives. Modi also “stressed that the two countries should work to accelerate exchanges” in the post-Covid era.
“The Prime Minister asked the Iranian Foreign Minister to also convey his greetings” to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, and “looked forward to meeting the Iranian President at an early date,” a PMO statement said.
Earlier, Jaishankar and Amir-Abdollahian discussed several issues including the ongoing war in Ukraine, the situation in Afghanistan and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed between Iran and the United States, France , Germany, China, Russia and the United Kingdom. in July 2015, colloquially called the Iran nuclear deal.
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Jaishankar said he had extensive discussions with Amir-Abdollahian. Tweeting about the reunion, he said, “An in-depth discussion with FM @Amirabdolahian from Iran. Reviewed our bilateral cooperation, particularly in the areas of trade, connectivity, health and people-to-people relations. Exchange of views on global and regional issues, including the JCPOA, Afghanistan and Ukraine. »
The Foreign Office said in a statement that during the delegation-level talks, the two ministers “discussed the full range of bilateral relations, including political, cultural and people-to-people ties.” Jaishankar appreciated Iran’s role in facilitating India’s medical assistance to Afghanistan, including providing Covid-19 vaccines to Afghan nationals residing in Iran, the MEA said.
“Both parties recognized the importance of bilateral cooperation in the area of regional connectivity and reviewed progress made at Shahid Beheshti Terminal, Chabahar Port. The parties agreed that Chabahar Port has provided access vital maritime port to landlocked Afghanistan and has also become a commercial transit hub for the region, including Central Asia.They reaffirmed their commitment to continue to cooperate in the development of the port of Chabahar.The teams of the two countries will meet shortly to discuss the operational aspects.
The two ministers also discussed “international and regional issues including Afghanistan and the parties reaffirmed the importance of providing immediate humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and reiterated the need for a representative and inclusive political system in the support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan.”
MEA said Amir-Abdollahian briefed Jaishankar “on the current situation regarding the JCPOA” and also exchanged views on the Ukrainian conflict and its repercussions.
The statement mentions that India and Iran share close historical and civilizational ties. “Our bilateral relations are marked by strong ties between institutions, culture and people-to-people ties.”
He is on a three-day tour of India and will visit Mumbai and Hyderabad over the next two days.
The meeting comes just days after Iran summoned India’s ambassador to the country, Gaddam Dharmendra, on Sunday to register its protest against comments by BJP leaders last week.
Iran was one of the first countries to launch the process, after Qatar and Kuwait.
Since then, however, nearly a dozen other nations have joined in summoning the Indian envoys or issued statements condemning the remarks, with some even calling for a public apology. Iran is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a 57-member body headquartered in Jeddah, which had been highly critical in its statement on the recent controversy. India had reacted strongly to the OIC’s comments, calling its “denunciation” “unwarranted and narrow-minded comments”.
Although it summoned the Indian diplomat, Iran however refrained from publishing any statement on the controversy.
Delhi has emphasized its diplomatic relations with Tehran, as it does not want it to fall under Beijing’s influence.
Iran has been one of India’s closest partners, especially in the Gulf region. India is also constructing Chabahar port, in partnership with Iran and Afghanistan earlier, located in Sistan-Balochistan province, which will give it access by sea to Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries.
Jaishankar has visited Iran regularly since taking over as foreign minister in 2019. He first visited the Persian nation just months after taking over as co-chairman in December 2019. the 19th meeting of the Mixed Commission.
Less than a year later, in September 2020, Jaishankar and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh visited Iran independently, en route to Moscow.
Jaishankar visited Iran again in July 2021, again en route to Moscow, and delivered a personal message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Ebrahim Raisi, who had just been elected incoming president. He was back in Tehran a few days later in August to attend Raisi’s swearing-in ceremony, to which India had been invited during the July visit.
All of these meetings and discussions, however, took place before the Taliban took control of Kabul in August last year, changing the region’s security scenario.
Afghanistan continues to be one of the main topics of discussion between the two nations. Last week, a team of Indian officials visited Kabul for the first time since August and discussed diplomatic relations, bilateral trade and humanitarian aid during a meeting with Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mottaqi.