India's balancing act to maintain ties with US, Iran

India's balancing act to maintain ties with US, Iran

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, welcomes his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, for their meeting in Tehran, Iran. (PTI Photo)

India played a balancing act in maintaining its ties with the United States and Iran, as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Tehran soon after he and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held the second India-America 2+2 dialogue with their counterparts in Washington D.C.

Jaishankar and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif co-chaired India-Iran Joint Commission Meeting in Tehran on Sunday.

“Excellent discussions on closer bilateral relations & (and) regional & global issues affecting our respective countries. Our ties are ancient, historic & (and) unbreakable,” tweeted Zarif, after his one-to-one talks with Jaishankar and the Joint Commission Meeting.

Jaishankar was in Washington D.C. recently where he had a one-to-one meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, apart from participating in India-America 2+2 dialogue.

Pompeo discussed with Jaishankar about the US Government's plan to step up pressure on Iran.

“On Iran, we discussed the maximum pressure campaign and why it’s necessary for getting the outlaw regime in Tehran to behave like a normal nation,” Pompeo said as he and US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper addressed a news-conference along with Jaishankar and Singh in Washington D.C.

India slashed its energy import from Iran after the US on November 4, 2018, re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran, particularly targeting the energy exports from the West Asian nation. The sanctions came into effect almost six months after President Donald Trump's administration in Washington D.C. decided to withdraw from the deal that the United States, four other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany, as well as European Union, had inked with Iran in 2015 to end the row over the controversial nuclear programme of the Islamic Republic.

Trump Administration earlier this year ended the waivers, which it had granted to India, China and six other nations last year to enable them to continue to import crude oil from Iran without making their entities liable to the US sanctions. 

After this step, India completely stopped importing crude oil from Iran. The US, however, granted India a waiver from its sanctions on Iran to continue its works on Chabahar Port in the Persian Gulf.

“I’m very grateful to Secretary Pompeo for reiterating the U.S. Government support of the Chabahar project, which will immensely benefit Afghanistan,” Jaishankar said in Washington D.C.

The officials of India, Iran and Afghanistan recently held a meeting in New Delhi to review the implementation of the trilateral agreement on the Chabahar Port. They noted progress in port operations by India Ports Global Ltd company since it took over of the port operations at Shaheed Beheshti Port at Chabahar in December 2018. It was recognised that over 5 lakh tons of cargo has been handled successfully, including exports from Afghanistan through Chabahar Port which began in February 2019.

The three nations also agreed to include Mormugoa and New Mangalore Port from India; in addition to JNPT, Mundra, Kandla and Cochin as part of the designated route under the Chabahar Agreement.