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Iran’s foreign minister to visit India as new Taliban govt begins to settle in Afghanistan

Iran is urging India to play larger role in Afghanistan and establish working relationship with Taliban. It also wants India to work out solution with US & resume oil imports.

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New Delhi: The new Foreign Minister of Iran, Hossein Amirabdollahian, is likely to visit India later this month as the Taliban’s caretaker government settles in Afghanistan. Iran will also press India to resume oil purchases, ThePrint has learnt.

The visit will come days after minister Amirabdollahian held telephonic conversation with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, having succeeded Javad Zarif as Iran’s foreign minister. Amirabdollahian served as Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs between 2011 and 2016. After assuming office as the foreign minister of Iran, he has met his counterparts from Pakistan and Qatar, among others.

Iran, apart from China and Pakistan, has also been playing a crucial role in Afghanistan, even as it has been tacitly supporting the Taliban’s comeback and the ousting of US and NATO forces from there.

Like India, Iran has also expressed concerns over the new Taliban interim government, and said it lacks inclusiveness. During the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between India and Australia last week, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar had expressed similar concerns.

During the phone call between Amirabdollahian and Jaishankar, India had sought Iran’s help in facilitating evacuation flights from Afghanistan.

Iran was also part of a regional conference that took place virtually on 8 September, a day after the Taliban announced their new interim government. The meeting was also attended by China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

In that forum, Amirabdollahian had said that Tehran supports “intra-Afghan talks and agreements”.

While India has been maintaining a dialogue with the Taliban leaders in Doha, it is yet to speak to anyone who is now ruling the corridors of power in Afghanistan.

Also read: As Taliban announces new ‘caretaker’ govt, India, US, China, Iran must brace for the worst

Resumption of oil trade between India and Iran

Iran has been insisting that all parties should come back to the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), ever since the Joe Biden administration came to power in the US in January 2021.

The previous Donald Trump administration had walked out of the JCPOA and imposed massive sanctions on Iran, which led India to also stop its oil purchases from Iran, coming down to nil in May 2019. However, Iran now wants India to review the policy and resume the purchases in an effort to continue the momentum in the bilateral ties by leveraging its growing strategic ties with the Biden government.

Of late, Iran and India have been regularly communicating on important bilateral issues. In July, Minister Jaishankar became the first foreign dignitary to meet Iran’s hard-liner President Ebrahim Raisi after he came to power there in a June election.

In August, Jaishankar represented India at the swearing-in ceremony of President Raisi in Tehran, which signalled the importance of bilateral ties between India and Iran.

Meeting of intelligence chiefs in Pakistan, minus India

On Saturday, Pakistan’s ISI chief Faiz Hameed held a meeting of all regional intelligence chiefs in Islamabad, in which the head of intelligence of Iran was also present.

The meeting took place to discuss stability of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the situation unfolding there, even as countries wait to see the war-torn nation run normally, and international flights resume.

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)

Also read: On Kabul, India need not hurry. Let Russia, China, Iran see Pakistan’s control of Taliban


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