External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Tuesday stopped on a “technical halt” in Tehran on way to Moscow for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers’ meeting next Monday. He met his Iranian counterpart Md Javad Zarif and discussed the high profile Chabahar port project and the situation in Afghanistan. Earlier Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had met his counterpart in Iran.
It is evident that, at a difficult time like this, Delhi is committed to ties with the west Asian country, notwithstanding India’s good relations with the United States which considers Iran as its arch-foe. The visit can be seen in the light of China trying to grab the strategic space in sanctions-hit Iran.
Moreover, the Chabahar port is very important for New Delhi as it gives India access to Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing Pakistan, which has strained relations with India. According to reports, India had allocated Rs 100 crore for the project, which makes it amply clear India’s desire and commitment to be part of the project.
Under a special waiver from the United States, the Chabahar port project is exempted from sanctions. It is an exception as the United States has applied sanctions on almost entities related to Iran. But after the Presidential elections in US, if the Democratic candidate Joe Biden comes to power the threat of sanctions will most probably vanish.
Also, the growing influence of Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan deeply concerns both India and Iran. That’s why India is deeply devoted to Afghanistan and the two countries are in consensus when it comes to power-sharing in Afghanistan.
So, keeping in view the Chabahar project and the situation in Afghanistan, Delhi has collaborated with the Iranian regime in a span of two days by sending its Defence and Foreign Ministers for talks. Iran too has welcomed the visits, which was evident in the red-carpet welcome for both Singh and Jaishankar.