Energy security, Ukraine conflict, connectivity topped India-Iran FM talks

Recalling the long-standing civilization and cultural links between India and Iran, PM Modi tweeted “Our relations have mutually benefited both the countries and have promoted regional security and prosperity.”

To promote comprehensive and vast strategic ties between Tehran and New Delhi, the visiting minister underlined the need for a roadmap.
To promote comprehensive and vast strategic ties between Tehran and New Delhi, the visiting minister underlined the need for a roadmap.

Talks between India and Iran discussed ways of deepening cooperation in trade, connectivity, counter-terrorism, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, energy security, regional and global issues.

The Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who is on his first ever four day visit to India since assuming office last year, had meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar. The Iranian minister is also visiting Hyderabad and Mumbai.

“India has not only maintained a balance in its relationship with Iran as well as all entities hostile to Iran but has been able to do business with Iran, managing to circumvent US sanctions over last couple of years, although not at the desired scale,” opines Maj Gen Nalin Bhatia, Indian Army Veteran and commentator on West Asia.

Meeting with Dr Jaishankar

There were two rounds of talks between Dr S Jaishankar and Amir-Abdollahian,  during which the focus was on reviewing bilateral cooperation in various sectors including trade, connectivity, health, people-to-people and on further enhancing ties especially in trade and economic sphere.

To promote comprehensive and vast strategic ties between Tehran and New Delhi, the visiting minister underlined the need for a roadmap.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, India, during his meeting with his counterpart Dr Jaishankar, the visiting Iranian foreign minister briefed him on the current situation pertaining to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

 The two sides also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and its impact in the region as well as expansion of trade and supplies through Chabahar Port to not only Afghanistan, but Central Asia too.

The two also exchanged views on the ongoing Ukraine conflict and its impact.

“The International North South Transport Corridor or INSTC that connects India with Russia via Iran would have certainly figured prominently in the talks between the two countries as Russia is close to both the countries. With the Ukraine war creating uncertainties for its trade through Black sea, a futuristic roadmap for its development would gain momentum,” Maj Gen Nalin Bhatia points out.

Meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Recalling the long-standing civilization and cultural links between India and Iran, PM Modi tweeted “Our relations have mutually benefited both the countries and have promoted regional security and prosperity.”

Meeting NSA

Reports citing a statement from Iran’s foreign ministry state that during his meeting with NSA, the visiting minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian had raised the issue of the controversial remarks against Prophet Mohammed by some people which has created “negative atmosphere.’’

The Iranian Foreign Ministry statement said that NSA Ajit Doval during the meeting had reaffirmed the Indian government and officials’ respect for the Prophet Muhammad. According to a statement from Iran, the NSA said that the offenders will be dealt with by the government and related bodies.

Energy Security

According to sources, import of oil from Iran to India too must have figured in talks. In an earlier exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online, Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran to India, Dr Ali Chegeni had “Iran has always been a reliable energy partner to its customers.” He had also indicated that the rupee-rial trade mechanism with India is already in place.

Also Readhttps://www.financialexpress.com/defence/iran-wants-to-develop-our-economic-trade-relations-beyond-energy-and-petrochemical-products-iranian-envoy/2542040/

Financial Express Online has reported earlier, that India is ready to re-start importing crude from Iran to meet its energy needs. In fact, recently Dr Jaishankar while speaking at Globsec 2022 in Bratislava, had stated that the US and Europe should consider putting South American nation Venezuela and Iran back on the table for oil imports.

India which was the second biggest importer of crude from Iran had turned off its taps after the US had imposed sanctions on that country in 2019. China was and remains number one in importing crude from Iran.

Expert View

According to Maj Gen Nalin Bhatia (retd), “Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahain’s current visit to India is an indication of continued engagement between the two countries that have been struggling to maintain their age old relationship in the backdrop of US backed sanctions on Iran relating to the nuclear issue, Israel-Iran standoff and Iranian support to Shia proxies in the Middle East.”

Importance of relationship

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Maj Gen Bhatia says “India’s relationship with Iran is important, as Iran facilitates Indian ambitions of connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia and facilitates it to bypass Pakistan which remains stuck with its policy of denial of access through land route to India to Central Asia and Afghanistan.”

“Chabahar port has emerged as the key Port for India to connect to Afghanistan and Central Asia where India has put in considerable money to see it being functional amid various challenges,” he adds.

According to him, “It would be an understatement to assume that all is well in relations between the two countries. Both sides have been struggling to make headway in meaningful relationship over the last three decades. Both sides would be looking to enhance trade relationship, more importantly import of Iranian oil by India and export of Indian food grain to Iran, overcoming the US sanctions.

The fact that both sides continue to generate goodwill and continue to engage provides a hope for future good relations between the two countries.” 

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