New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held wide-ranging talks with his visiting Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Wednesday against the backdrop of widespread anger in West Asia over controversial remarks on Prophet
Mohammad made by two former BJP spokespersons. Abdollahian is on a three-day visit to India with an aim to further enhance the bilateral ties as well as to discuss key regional and global developments, including the situation in Afghanistan.
It is the first visit to India by a senior minister of a member nation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) after the controversial remarks triggered anguish in the Arab World. ”Welcoming FM @Amirabdolahian to New Delhi. Our discussions today will reflect our close and friendly relations,” Jaishankar said in a tweet ahead of the talks.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the visit by the Iranian foreign minister will further ”boost the deep historical ties and partnership” between the two countries. Abdollahian’s visit to India comes days after Iran joined Kuwait and Qatar in summoning the Indian ambassadors over the remarks against the Prophet by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal.
Since then, several countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Bahrain, the Maldives, Malaysia, Oman, Iraq and Libya, have denounced the comments. The MEA on Monday categorically rejected the criticism of India by the OIC following the comments on the Prophet.
According to the MEA, Abdollahian will travel to Mumbai and Hyderabad after concluding his engagements in New Delhi. Iran has been a key country for India in the Gulf region.
The two sides have been jointly focussing on improving connectivity between South East Asia and Central Asia. At a connectivity conference in Tashkent in July last year, Jaishankar had projected Iran’s Chabahar port as a key regional transit hub, including Afghanistan.
Located in Sistan-Balochistan province on energy-rich Iran’s southern coast, the Chabahar port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost connectivity and trade ties. India has been in touch with Iran over the developments in Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban on August 15 last year.
The Iranian national security advisor had attended a regional conclave hosted by India on the Afghan crisis in November last year. The conclave was also attended by the NSAs of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.