India and Iran hold high-profile talks; mutual legal assistance ink agreement

India and Iran held wide-ranging talks on Wednesday focused on improving trade, connectivity and counter-terrorism cooperation even as Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian raised the issue of the remarks controversial statements about the Prophet Muhammad made by two former BJP spokespersons.

The crisis in Ukraine and the situation in Afghanistan were among the key issues that featured in the talks between Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Abdollahian, who is on a three-day visit to India.

The two parties have also signed a mutual legal assistance agreement in civil and commercial matters.

The Iranian Foreign Minister also met with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and discussions focused on improving connectivity through Chabahar port, strengthening trade and investment ties and expansion of cooperation in education and research.

There were no details from the Indian side about the meeting between Doval and Abdollahian.

An Iranian reading said Abdollahian raised the issue of the “negative atmosphere” triggered by “disrespectful” comments about the Prophet and that the Indian side reiterated the Indian government’s respect for the founder of Islam.

He said Abdollahian commended the people of India and the government for their respect for religions, especially the Prophet.

The reading mentioned that the Indian side in its response said that the defendants would be treated appropriately.

The reading indicates that the Iranian Foreign Minister also referred to the coexistence of various religions in India, apart from mentioning the historic friendship between followers of various religions in the country.

The BJP on Sunday suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled the party’s Delhi unit media chief, Naveen Jindal, for allegedly making derogatory comments.

Iran’s IRNA news agency quoted Abdollahian as saying ahead of the talks that his trip to India is taking place in a situation in which a party member “insulted” the Prophet Muhammad in an arbitrary act.

He said India has “constantly followed peaceful coexistence and tried to live in peace and tranquility” and noted that “Muslims cannot tolerate the sacrilege of the Prophet of Islam at all”, according to the report. ‘IRNA.

He said Abdollahian described security and military relations between the two countries as “appropriate” and called for expanded cooperation and “use of capabilities to fight terrorism at bilateral and regional levels and to help the Afghan people”. The talks between Jaishankar and Abdollahian focused on the overall bilateral relations.

”Extensive discussion with FM @Amirabdolahian from Iran. Reviewed our bilateral cooperation, particularly in the areas of trade, connectivity, health and people-to-people relations. Exchange of views on global and regional issues including JCPOA, Afghanistan and Ukraine,’ Jaishankar tweeted.

It is the first visit to India by a senior minister from an Organization of Islamic Cooperation member country after the controversial remarks sparked angst in the Arab world.

Abdollahian’s visit to India came days after Iran joined Kuwait and Qatar in summoning Indian ambassadors over remarks against the Prophet Muhammad by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal.

Since then, several countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Bahrain, Maldives, Malaysia, Oman, Iraq and Libya have denounced the remarks.

The Iran nuclear deal also figured in the talks. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, was finalized in 2015 between Tehran and several world powers, including the EU.

It was aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The United States withdrew from the agreement in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran. There have been new efforts now to restore the agreement. Iran has been a key country for India in the Gulf region.

The two sides have jointly focused on improving connectivity between Southeast Asia and Central Asia.

At a connectivity conference in Tashkent last July, Jaishankar projected Iran’s Chabahar port as a key regional transit hub.

Located in the province of Sistan-Baluchistan on Iran’s energy-rich southern coast, Chabahar Port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost connectivity and trade ties. India has been in contact with Iran over developments in Afghanistan after its takeover by the Taliban on August 15.

The Iranian national security adviser had participated in a regional conclave organized by India in November on the Afghan crisis.

The conclave also brought together NSAs from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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