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Jaishankar stops over in Tehran as Intra-Afghan Dialogue Summit begins in Iranian capital

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar meets Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on Wednesday (Images courtesy: Twitter/DrSJaishankar)

On his way to Russia, India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar landed in Tehran Wednesday, meeting the country's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi and also holding talks with his counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. The timing of Jaishankar's brief halt was crucial as the Intra-Afghan Dialogue Summit, hosted by Iran and attended by the representatives of the Kabul government and the high political delegation of Taliban, also kicked off in the Iranian capital today.

The summit was opened by Zarif on Wednesday morning and it is quite obvious that both ministers would have had a quick discussion on the current situation in Afghanistan even though Jaishankar tweeted about the "warm welcome" he received from the Iranian Foreign Minister, saying that he had "useful discussion on regional and global affairs" with him.

The EAM also met the Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi and handed over "a personal message" from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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"Thank President-elect Ebrahim Raisi for his gracious welcome. Handed over a personal message from PM Narendra Modi. Appreciate his warm sentiments for India. Deeply value his strong commitment to strengthen our bilateral ties and expand cooperation on regional and global issues," Jaishankar tweeted.

Recognising the importance of regional connectivity, New Delhi has invested billions in Iran's Chabahar port with Tehran and Kabul as key partners in the Trilateral Agreement to establish an International Transport and Transit Corridor. The port has already emerged as a commercial transit hub for the region, handling several shipments, not just from India but also Brazil, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, UAE and Germany.

Once fully completed, the game changer project will provide unhindered access to the landlocked central Asian countries. However, for that to become a reality, complete peace and stability in Afghanistan remains of utmost importance.  

With the US exit from Afghanistan, this is where Tehran and Moscow – Jaishankar's next stop – are expected to play a big role, along with India.  

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Jaishankar with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday 

While addressing the opening ceremony of the Intra-Afghan Dialogue Summit today, Zarif highlighted the  failure of Washington in Afghanistan, saying that more than two decades of its presence in the country has resulted in major damages.

"Today the people and political leaders of Afghanistan must make hard decisions for the future of their country," the Iranian Foreign Minister said while pointing to the undesirable results of continued clashes in Afghanistan.

He expressed Tehran's preparedness to help the process of talks among the existing parties in order to settle the ongoing conflicts and crisis in the country.

The discussions on Afghanistan are expected to continue when Jaishankar meets Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia over the next two days. The EAM will also be meeting Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov and hold discussions with Leonid Slutsky, the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs.

Highlighting that Jaishankar's visit to Russia will further strengthen the 'Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership' between the two countries, the Ministry of External Affairs said that entire range of bilateral issues, including cooperation in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, are expected to be held on Thursday and Friday.

Also Read: India takes one more step to develop Chabahar port