President Raisi to Indian FM: Afghanistan's Situation Will Improve if Americans Don't ‘Sabotage’ It
12:52 GMT 06.08.2021 (Updated: 10:38 GMT 19.07.2022)
© AFP 2023 / ATTA KENAREEbrahim Raisi gives a news conference after voting in the presidential election, at a polling station in the capital Tehran, on June 18, 2021. - Raisi on June 19 declared the winner of a presidential election, a widely anticipated result after many political heavyweights were barred from running.
© AFP 2023 / ATTA KENARE
New Delhi and Washington said last month that the two “largely see Afghanistan in the same light”, as Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed a joint presser in New Delhi. Both India and the US have also backed a “politically inclusive” solution to end the ongoing hostilities in Afghanistan.
Iran's new President Dr Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi told Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Friday that his government would prioritise developing relations with New Delhi, calling for “close cooperation and coordination” between the two countries to ensure peace and security in the region.
In a face-to-face meeting with Jaishankar after taking charge as the country’s new president, Raisi said that he “welcomes” New Delhi’s role in establishing stability and security in neighbouring Afghanistan.
"The fate of Afghanistan must be decided by the Afghans themselves, and we believe that if the Americans do not sabotage the situation, this issue will be resolved quickly.— IranGov.ir (@Iran_GOV) August 6, 2021
Iran is considered as a key regional power as far as the intra-Afghan talks are concerned and is holding consultations with both President Ashraf Ghani’s government as well as the Taliban*. Iran’s outgoing Foreign Minister Javad Zarif last month also chaired an "Intra-Afghan Dialogue Summit" in Tehran, attended by Taliban and Afghan government representatives.
The Taliban’s potential role in Afghanistan has become significant as the Islamist insurgent outfit controls 212 of Afghanistan's 426 districts, with the Afghan government in charge in 111 districts. Taliban fighters are also reported to have laid siege to three Afghan provincial capitals - Herat (Herat province), Lashkar Gah (Helmand), and Kandahar (Kandahar province) - as they now attempt to capture the country’s urban centres.
Countries such as Iran have blamed America’s “disorderly” troop withdrawal process from Afghanistan for creating a security vacuum in the region and giving the Taliban a chance to make territorial gains. Tehran has also been critical of “external” actors such as the US for Afghanistan’s current security woes, in reference to US-led coalition troops’ invasion of the country in 2001.
While India has so far denied that it is holding discussions with the Taliban, unlike other regional powers such as China, Russia, and Iran, the Indian Foreign Ministry has stated that it is in touch with “multiple stakeholders” over the security situation in Afghanistan.
Second Meeting Between Raisi and Jaishankar
The Indian foreign minister is on a two-day visit to Tehran and attended the swearing-in ceremony of Raisi on Thursday, 5 August. Friday’s meeting is the second between Delhi’s top diplomat and Iran’s new president, with Jaishankar also having called upon Raisi during a stopover in Tehran on 8 July while on his way to Moscow for a two-day working visit.
Raisi reportedly told Jaishankar during the previous meeting that “extensive economic interactions" between New Delhi and Tehran as well as "collective security” with the involvement of regional powers would top the bilateral agenda during his presidency.
Raisi’s reference at the time was to a lean phase in ties between the two Asian countries after former US President Donald Trump's unilateral decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018 and threats of economic sanctions against entities involved in trade with Iran.
"The current level of relations is not favourable and we are determined to establish long-term cooperation in the interests of our nations, given the serious will of the Iranian side”, Raisi told Jaishankar on Friday.
With President Joe Biden indicating his willingness to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, New Delhi has sensed an opening. Since Biden's election victory, New Delhi has more than doubled its annual allocation for the Chabahar Port to $13.5 million in 2021-22.
Iran also announced on 27 July that trade between Delhi and Tehran increased by 240 percent in the March-June quarter this year, compared with the same time period last year.
* The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries