Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday on a three-day visit to India in the midst of spiralling tension between his country and the US. On Wednesday, he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also deliver a lecture at the Raisina Dialogue, the External Affairs Ministry's flagship annual conference. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will hold talks with Zarif on Thursday morning over breakfast, according to the ministry.
In the meeting, both ministers are expected to deliberate on fast escalating tensions between Iran and the US over the killing of top Iranian military commander Maj Gen Soleimani by America in a drone attack. On Thursday afternoon, Zarif will travel to Mumbai where he will interact with a group of business leaders. He will conclude his India visit on Friday, according to the MEA. The visit assumes significance as it is taking place when the global focus has been on Iran and the US over the confrontation following the killing of Soleimani.
Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite al-Quds force was killed when a US drone fired missiles on his convoy in Iraq on January 3. Last week, Iran launched over a dozen ballistic missiles targeting at least two bases where US military and coalition forces' are stationed in Iraq. Soleimani's killing was the most dramatic escalation yet in spiraling tensions between Iran and the US.
India has been maintaining that it would like the situation to de-escalate as soon as possible and the country has been in touch with key players including Iran, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar as it has important interests in the region. India has strategic interests in the Gulf region which is a key source of the country's energy security.
After the conflict soared, Tehran on January 9 had said that it would welcome any peace initiative from New Delhi for de-escalating tensions in the region. Iranian Ambassador Ali Chegeni said that Tehran welcomes all initiatives from all countries, especially India. He said, "India usually plays a very good role in peace in the world. At the same time India belongs to this region. We all welcome all initiatives from all countries, especially India a good friend for us, to annoy allow escalations."
Amid escalations, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held a conversation with both Zarif and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Tehran and New Delhi share a strong bilateral relationship with economic, historic and cultural links. Both countries have relied upon one another for maintaining the stability of the region. The most prominent, Chabahar Port, that acts as a transport and trade corridor with Afghanistan and Central Asia is significant in India-Iran relations.
(With PTI inputs)