Iranian, Indian defense ministers hold talks to discuss regional security

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Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh held talks in Tehran on September 6 on international, regional and bilateral issues, according to IRNA.


Rajnath Singh arrived in Tehran on Saturday for an unscheduled stopover on his way back from Moscow after a three-day visit, during which he attended a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) defense ministers’ meeting.


It was the first travel of a top Indian official to Iran since the December 2019 outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.


IRNA notes that Iran and India enjoy traditional friendly ties. Iranian and Indian officials reportedly hold regular consultations on close cooperation to ensure regional peace and security.


Indian English-language daily newspaper The Economic Times notes that Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday he had a “very fruitful” meeting with his Iranian counterpart Brigadier General Amir Hatami and discussed ways to bolster bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on regional security issues, including the situation in Afghanistan.


India-Iran commercial ties were traditionally dominated by Indian import of Iranian crude oil, according to The Economic Times. In 2018-19 India reportedly imported USD 12.11 billion worth of crude oil from Iran.


However, following the end of the Significant Reduction Exemption (SRE) period on May 2, 2019, India has suspended importing crude from Iran.


The US had asked countries, including India, to cut oil imports from Iran down to “zero” by November 6, 2019 or face sanctions.


Meanwhile, Anadolu Agency (AA) says that according to informed sources in Iran’s Defense Ministry, the two sides also discussed recent tensions between Tehran and Washington and US attempts to reinstate pre-2015 sanctions on Iran.


Recent tensions between India and China in the disputed Kashmir region also came up for discussion.


AA notes that Iran’s relations with Beijing have significantly improved in recent years, and both sides are currently in talks to sign a mega deal, while India’s ties with China have deteriorated.


The peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Afghanistan was also discussed in the talks.


Singh’s visit to Tehran is reportedly seen as significant by regional observers, coming against the backdrop of recent developments at Iran’s port of Chabahar, where Iran reportedly dropped India from a lucrative project.


Both countries have been involved in the development of the port, which links India with Afghanistan. Observers reportedly see Iran as India’s gateway to Central Asia and Afghanistan.


Source: Asia Plus