Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar hold talks in Tehran, after Defense Minister Singh

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India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar held talks Tuesday in the Iranian capital, becoming the second senior Indian minister to visit the Islamic republic this week.

“A productive meeting with FM @JZarif during a stopover in Tehran,” he tweeted, after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. Jaishankar said they “discussed strengthening our bilateral cooperation and reviewed regional developments.”

Zarif, also on Twitter, wrote: “Our active engagement with our neighbourhood is our top priority.”

On Sunday, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Amir Hatami also held talks in Tehran.

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During Jaishankar’s last visit in December, before the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic which has hit both countries hard, Tehran and Delhi said they had agreed to speed up the development of the Iranian port of Chabahar on the Indian Ocean.

Work has been stalled, despite waivers to sanctions that the United States has reimposed on Iran after withdrawing from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

“Indian policy is aimed at maintaining a balance in the complex Persian Gulf and the larger West Asia region,” Manoj Joshi, a defense and foreign policy expert at New Delhi based think-tank Observer Research Foundation, told AFP.

“New Delhi has always wanted to have good relations with all the countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel... These visits need to been seen in that context.” Joshi said India also wanted to balance Chinese influence in the region.

“Iran is also important in the sense that China has been dominating the region, and New Delhi doesn’t want to give a free run to Beijing,” he said. Iran is the closest major source of resources for India.

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