External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar (left) with Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar became the first foreign dignitary to meet President-elect Ebrahim Raisi, a move that is unprecedented for Iran

New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi Wednesday met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar during the latter’s hurricane trip to the country. This is a rare gesture by Iran when an incoming president meets a visiting foreign dignitary.

Jaishankar became the first foreign dignitary to meet Iran’s hard-liner President-elect Raisi after he won the election last month to succeed Hassan Rouhani.

During the meeting, Jaishankar delivered a written congratulatory message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Both sides also stressed on the need to strengthen inter-Afghan dialogue leading to a comprehensive political partnership in Afghanistan, according to a statement issued by the Iranian foreign ministry.

On the same day, a delegation of Taliban leaders led by Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai were also visiting Iran from Doha to discuss the state play in the intra-Afghan dialogue after the US’ exit from Afghanistan.

“Thank President-elect Ebrahim Raisi for his gracious welcome. Handed over a personal message from PM @narendramodi. Appreciate his warm sentiments for India. Deeply value his strong commitment to strengthen our bilateral ties and expand cooperation on regional and global issues (sic),” Jaishankar said in a tweet.

According to Iran’s foreign ministry, Jaishankar had “thanked Iran for its efforts” for bringing the Afghan government and the Taliban leaders “closer to a comprehensive political solution” even as the intra-Afghan talks remained in a stalemate.

This was Jaishankar’s third visit to Iran in the last one and a half years.

Oil Trade, Chabahar Port Feature In Talks

Jaishankar also met his counterpart Javad Zarif and both sides talked about issues concerning India’s decision to resume oil imports from Iran, which were halted in May 2019 owing to American sanctions under the Trump administration, sources said.

Sources also said India was cautiously watching what steps the Joe Biden administration in the US will take when it comes to lifting the sanctions as New Delhi is keen to resume the bilateral trade with Iran on oil and petrochemicals.

But this, the sources added, depended on whether there is a favourable outcome for Iran in the ongoing Vienna talks, which has been ongoing since April 2021 between Tehran and six world powers on a nuclear deal. The US had walked out of the deal in 2018.

There were also wide-ranging discussions that took place on the Chabahar Port, which is of critical importance for connectivity and trade between India and Afghanistan. Earlier this year, India handed over mobile harbour cranes for the port.