NSA Doval visits Iran, holds talks with Iranian counterpart

New Delhi,  NSA Ajit Doval and his Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani on Monday held wide-ranging talks in Tehran focusing on the development of Chabahar port, the situation in Afghanistan and bilateral trade-economic engagement.

The National Security Advisor was on a day-long visit to Iran.

In the talks, Shamkhani favoured activating the Rupee-Rial mechanism between the two countries for trade, saying it is necessary for advancing shared goals in various economic fields, according to Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA.

India is the current chair of the SCO and Iran is set to be made a permanent member of the grouping at its annual summit later this year.

Iranian state-run news agency IRNA reported that Doval and Shamkhani discussed economic, political and security issues concerning the two countries, “as well as the most important regional and international developments”.

Sources told ThePrint that the big focus of Doval’s visit has been deepening security and intelligence cooperation between the two sides while also looking at ongoing projects.

As reported by ThePrint, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Iranian counterpart Brigadier General Ashtiani last week reviewed the progress of the key International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) — a 7,200 km multi-mode transport project to facilitate movement of freight along Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe, besides the two countries.

The first India-bound Russian cargo — sent by train for the first time using the INSTC — reached Iran last year, having covered around 3,800 km through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, after which it was sent over to India by sea.

This new corridor has opened up a whole new route for trade between India and Russia in which Iran plays a key role.

India has been pushing for increased regional connectivity and the development of the Chabahar port in Iran. New Delhi has proposed to include the port in the framework of the INSTC.

Located in the Sistan-Baluchistan province on energy-rich Iran’s southern coast, the Chabahar port is being increasingly seen as central to connectivity to central Asia.