External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today made a stopover at Tehran on her way back from Russia, and held a luncheon meeting with her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif during which issues of mutual interests were discussed. Swaraj was returning from the Russian city of Sochi where she attended the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). “Reinforcing our traditionally close and civilizational linkages, EAM @SushmaSwaraj had a luncheon meeting with the Foreign Minister of Iran Dr. Javad Zarif in #Tehran. Both sides discussed issues of mutual interest,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted. The two ministers are understood to have reviewed the implementation of the Chabahar port project in which India is a key partner. Over a month ago, India had sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through the Chabahar port in Iran, which was seen as a “landmark” move to operationalise a new strategic transit route among the three countries bypassing Pakistan. The port is likely to ramp up trade between India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries.
Besides bilateral issues, Swaraj and Zarif are understood to have deliberated on regional situation and political developments in the Gulf region. India is looking to increase engagement with Iran by raising oil imports and possible shipments of natural gas and the issue is believed to have figured in the meeting.
Swaraj had paid a bilateral visit to Iran in April last year during which both sides had decided to significantly expand engagement in their overall ties, particularly in boosting Indian investment in joint ventures in oil and gas sectors. On her stopover, MEA officials said it was a technical stopover and not an unscheduled one.