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Sharing Responsibilities For Dip In Ties

Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi, the new President of Iran, has announced that his Government would try to take relations with India to new heights. Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who arrived in Tehran to attend Raisi’s swearing-in ceremony on August 5, met the eighth Iranian President on August 6. During the meeting, Raisi said that the friendship between India and Iran is a historic one. He also assured the visiting Indian minister that it would be his priority to take this relationship forward. Meanwhile, the Iranian President thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not taking away India’s hand of friendship in difficult times.

Iran, currently under US sanctions over its nuclear programme, is a key ally of India in West Asia. India has invested heavily in the geo-strategically important Iranian port of Chabahar. New Delhi had imported huge quantities of crude oil from Iran till 2019. Although the Modi Administration had to stop importing crude oil from Tehran because of US pressure, the importance of friendship with Iran has increased for India due to the current political situation in Afghanistan. Hence, Dr Jaishankar had to visit Tehran twice in the last one month.

President Raisi speaks during his swearing-in ceremony at the Parliament in Tehran

Dr Jaishankar greeted Raisi over phone as the first foreign minister of any country after his victory in the Presidential Election. President Raisi invited the Indian Minister to attend his swearing-in ceremony. Dr Jaishankar accepted the invitation and arrived in Tehran to rekindle the friendship between the two Asian nations. He informed the newly-elected President that India was keen to invest more in Iran’s infrastructure projects, ignoring US sanctions.

Meanwhile, Heads of State from 10 countries, including former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, foreign ministers from 11 countries and other ministers from 10 countries attended President Raisi’s swearing-in ceremony in the first week of August. In a statement, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that Dr Jaishankar held talks with representatives of other countries, including the Finance Minister of Oman and Foreign Minister of Bolivia, in Tehran. The Indian minister had visited Tehran on his way to Moscow in July. At that time, he conveyed Indian Prime Minister Modi’s message of friendship to President Raisi.

Dr Jaishankar meets President Raisi

Raisi, known to be close to Supreme Iranian Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had recorded a landslide victory in the Presidential Poll in June 2021. According to diplomats, Prime Minister Modi asked his External Affairs Minister to attend the swearing-in ceremony in Tehran, as he wanted to send a positive message to President Raisi. According to sources close to the Ministry of External Affairs, Dr Jaishankar discussed sensitive bilateral issues, including India’s activism at Chabahar port, suspension of Indian oil imports from Iran under US pressure and Iran’s negative comments on Kashmir, with the newly-elected President. The Indian minister’s visit to Iran is also significant in light of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban in the war-ravaged country.

Before leaving Tehran for New Delhi, Dr Jaishankar expressed hope that India’s ties with Iran would improve under the leadership of President Raisi.

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