External affairs minister S Jaishankar calls on the President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi

The Indian Navy has increased surveillance in the region in response to recent attacks on merchant vessels. Jaishankar called on President Ebrahim Raisi and discussed bilateral and regional issues, including the need to prevent further escalation of violence and hostilities in West Asia. The ministers also discussed cooperation on developing the Chabahar port and the International North South Transport Corridor.

The situation in Gaza and the attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and parts of the Arabian Sea were on Monday the focus of discussions between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Tehran, with the Indian minister flagging concerns about a perceptible increase in threats to the safety of maritime traffic in the region including attacks in the vicinity of the Indian coast.

The foreign minister also called on President Ebrahim Raisi and expressed condolences over the Kerman terror attack on January 3in which nearly 100 people were killed. “Apprised him (President Raisi) of my productive discussions with the Iranian Ministers. Value his guidance for further development of ties,” Jaishankar wrote on X.

Jaishankar also met secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Akbar Ahmadian and discussed a variety of bilateral and regional issues

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar expressed concerns about the safety of maritime traffic in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea during discussions with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The fraught situation in the seas is not to the benefit of any party and this must be recognised, the minister said at a joint press conference with Iranian minister Amir-Abdollahian.

“This is a matter of grave concern to the international community. Obviously, it also has a direct bearing on India’s energy and economic interests,” Jaishankar told reporters.

The Indian Navy has stepped up surveillance in the troubled region substantially and deployed task groups consisting of around 10 warships in the face of the recent attacks on India-bound merchant vessels including MV Chem Pluto and MV Saibaba.

The drone attack on MV Chem Pluto took place around 220 nautical miles south-west of Porbandar, while the other vessel was targeted in the southern Red Sea.

Houthi militia has been targeting commercial shipping in the Red Sea with missiles and drones after the Israel-Hamas conflict began on October 7. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels declared their support for Hamas. Several shipping companies have suspended their operations in the Red Sea following the Houthi attacks, which have forced mariners to change course and take longer routes around the southern tip of Africa.

Jaishankar said it was important that the issue be “speedily addressed.”

The minister also said that both India and Iran were concerned about the recent events in West Asia and emphasised the need to prevent further escalation of violence and hostilities. “India has a long-standing and uncompromising position against terrorism, he said. “This remains so very much. At the same time, we strongly believe that it is imperative to avoid loss of civilian life in any conflict situation.”

Jaishankar added that loss of civilian lives, especially that of women and children, was the primary focus. “There is a visible humanitarian crisis that needs to be addressed and the creation of sustainable humanitarian corridors is the need of the day,” he said.

On the issue of Palestine, he reiterated India’s long-standing support for a two-State solution, where the Palestinian people can live freely in an independent country within secure borders. India has backed a two-State solution to resolve the decades-old Israel-Palestine conflict and bring lasting peace to the troubled region where war erupted again after Hamas militants launched an audacious assault against Israel on October 7 and the West Asian nation responded with a massive bombing campaign and ground invasion of Gaza.

“I stressed on the need for all parties to avoid provocative and escalatory actions, and to facilitate movement towards dialogue and diplomacy,” Jaishankar said.

“Today, I hosted Indian FM S Jaishankar, we held talks over the latest regional and international developments, especially the Zionist regime’s genocide & crimes against Palestinians. We discussed the expanding bilateral & multilateral ties within the Shanghai Org and BRICS, the expansion of Chabahar Port and the north-south transit route,” the Iranian foreign ministry quoted Amir-Abdollahian as saying in a post on X.

Regional Connectivity

Jaishankar and Amir-Abdollahian also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and cooperation on developing the Chabahar port and the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200km multi-mode route spanning 13 countries.

Regional connectivity has been a critical pillar of India-Iran relations and was naturally prominent in the discussions, Jaishankar said. “I reiterated India’s interest in benefiting from Iran’s unique geographical position to access markets in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Eurasia. We discussed the prospects of energising INSTC. In particular, we discussed India’s involvement in the development and operation of the Chabahar port, a joint project with a joint vision of connectivity.”

He emphasised India’s commitment to the project, and discussed how the two countries can establish a firm, sustainable and long-term road map for India’s continued involvement over the coming years. “Given the importance of this project for both nations, I emphasised the need to monitor its progress under the direct supervision of the political leadership.”

Cooperation on the Chabahar port also figured in Jaishankar’s talks with Iran’s minister of road and urban development Mehrdad Bazrpash.

“Began my engagements in Tehran by meeting Minister of Roads and Urban Development @mehrdadbazrpash. Detailed and productive discussion on establishing a long-term cooperation framework with respect to Chabahar port. Also exchanged views on the International North-South Transport Corridor,” Jaishankar wrote on X.

Bazrpash and Jaishankar have reached a final agreement to develop Chabahar port in south-eastern Iran, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Chabahar port, where an Indian state-run firm operates a terminal, is a key part of India’s plans to enhance connectivity to Afghanistan and the Central Asian states. The port played an important role in shipping humanitarian aid to Afghanistan amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I underscored the importance of security in int’l waters for Iran &said that the White House’s continued support for war crimes by the Zionists paves the way for the spillage of instability across the region,” the Iranian minister said.