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India invites Iran’s new foreign minister for talks on Afghanistan

Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir Abdollahian

After opening channels with the Taliban in Doha, India has reached out to Iran to seek convergence on ways to tackle the fluid situation in Afghanistan.

India’s proactive outreach to Eurasia to address the Afghan situation after the Taliban’s takeover in Kabul, includes a conversation last week  between Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Wednesday External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar thanked the Iranian side for facilitating India’s repatriation flights from Iran. 

”Agreed to strengthen our bilateral cooperation. Discussed pressing regional issues. Appreciate Iran's facilitation of our repatriation flights from Afghanistan.

According to the Iranian foreign ministry website four main issues were discussed during the conversation.

First, Jaishankar invited his newly appointed counterpart, Hossein Amir Abdollahian for open-ended talks over areas of “mutual interests”.

Second, the two top diplomats exchanged notes about the fluid situation in Afghanistan. Iran’s foreign minister said that Iran pursued a policy of supporting the formation of “an inclusive government” in Afghanistan made up of all Afghan ethnic groups. Iran’s foreign minister also said the international community including regional nations must join hands to defuse the crisis in Afghanistan.

While Iran reached out to the Taliban several years ago, Tehran wants Afghanistan's minorities—Tajiks, Hazaras, Shias and Uzbeks—with whom it shares deep historic bonds, remain protected with the formation of an “inclusive government”. Though India has reached out to the Taliban with the meeting in the India’s embassy in Qatar earlier this week, New Delhi will also be looking for a government, driven from below,  which represents all Afghan people.

Also Read: After US exit, Iran hopes to lead global diplomacy to end conflict in Afghanistan

Third, both Jaishankar and  Abdollahian talked about focusing on  a transportation corridor, with Iran’s Indian Ocean port of Chabahar as the hub. The Iranian foreign minister specifically called for speeding up the Chabahar Project and expanding trade with India.

The two foreign ministers called for an expansion of ties, with Abdollahian nailing Covid vaccines as an area of collaboration between New Delhi and Tehran.

Earlier this year India had sent consignment of COVAX to Iran, which has been reeling under a spate of Covid-19 infections.

India is visibly rebooting ties with Iran—evident from Jaishankar’s presence in Tehran for the oath taking ceremony of Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi. This was Jaishankar’s second visit to Iran in two months, following his stopover in Tehran in July.

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