23:43 GMT25 July 2021
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    Economic ties between India and Iran, which in the past was Delhi's top crude supplier, took a hit after ex-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the Iran nuclear deal. However, since Joe 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's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi has told Indian Foreign Minister Subramaniam Jaishankar that "extensive economic interactions" between New Delhi and Tehran as well as "collective security" with the participation of regional powers were the key priorities in bilateral ties, Press TV has reported.

    Jaishankar met Iran's incoming president during a stopover in Tehran on Wednesday, while on his way for a two-day working visit to Moscow (7-9 July).

    Raisi, who won the 18 June Iranian presidential election in a landslide, also told the visiting Indian foreign minister that "stable and lasting" ties between the two Asian nations should serve their "own interests".

    While India and Iran have traditionally enjoyed close social and energy ties, former US President Donald Trump's unilateral decision to pull Washington out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018 and threatening economic sanctions against entities involved in trade with the Persian nation led to New Delhi scaling down its relations with the nation.

    Even though the Trump administration granted a waiver from economic sanctions to the India-backed Chabahar port, Indian analysts have pointed out that the fear of "secondary sanctions" on Indian companies engaged in trade with Iran were always present.

    With President Joe Biden indicating his willingness to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, New Delhi has sensed an opening. The P5+1 group of nations have met for five rounds of talks with Iranian diplomats since April to renegotiate the terms of a revised Iran nuclear deal.

    Raisi reportedly noted during his interaction with Jaishankar that America's "maximum pressure" policy against Tehran had failed, in reference to concerns expressed by Washington about Tehran's nuclear enrichment programme. Iran claims it enriches uranium for "peaceful purposes", a claim contested by the US and its regional allies such as Israel.

    On security cooperation with New Delhi, Raisi expressed hope that Delhi and Tehran could work together towards resolving different challenges, including the security situation in Afghanistan against the backdrop of the American troop pullout from the region.

    The Indian foreign minister called upon Iran and other countries to work together towards maintaining peace in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

    Responding to a question from Sputnik about Jaishankar's Iran visit during a weekly briefing on Thursday, the Indian Foreign Ministry said that both Raisi and the Indian FM "expressed concern" over the security situation in Afghanistan during the meeting.

    "Both sides also discussed the joint connectivity initiatives in the region, including the International North South Transport Corridor and the Chabahar Port", said Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
    "As regards the JCPOA, we have always maintained that issues arising out of that must be resolved peacefully and through constructive diplomacy", the Indian official added.

    Jaishankar's Iran stopover coincided with Tehran hosting high-level delegations from the Taliban as well as the Afghan government for talks on Afghanistan's security situation.



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