Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has called for the expansion of all-out ties between Tehran and New Delhi, saying the Islamic Republic of Iran is not bound by any constraints to expanding its relations with India.
Heading a high-ranking delegation, Amir-Abdollahian arrived in the Indian capital city of New Delhi on Wednesday morning at the official invitation of his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
During his stay, he is expected to lay out a long-term roadmap for comprehensive cooperation between the two countries.
In a meeting with Indian national security advisor Ajit Kumar Doval, the Iranian foreign minister said there are numerous areas the two countries can tap into in order to develop their relations in various dimensions, regardless of third parties or those who oppose closer Tehran-New Delhi relations.
He welcomed the expansion of bilateral relations in the field of transportation via the south-north corridors, especially through investment, trade, education, research and development, and the Chabahar port.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has no restrictions in expanding its relations with India, he asserted.
He also called for closer security and military relations between the two countries in order to fight terrorism at the bilateral and regional levels and to help the people of neighboring Afghanistan.
Doval, for his part, expressed his country’s readiness to expand ties with Tehran, saying a strategic committee is needed to develop bilateral relations in all fields.
He also lamented the recent offensive remarks against Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) and reassured the chief Iranian diplomat of India’s respect toward Islam’s prophet.
Wrongdoers, he said, will be dealt with at the level of the government and related bodies in a way that would be a lesson to others.
Amir-Abdollahian then lauded the respect shown by Indian people and officials toward divine religions and their sanctities, in particular Prophet Muhammad, saying religious tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and historical friendship among followers of different religions in India are exemplary.
He conveyed Muslims’ satisfaction with the positions of the Indian authorities in dealing with the perpetrators.
Nevertheless, he called for serious attention to the sensitivities of Muslims regarding their religious sanctities.
In recent remarks on a TV news debate, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s spokesperson Nupur Sharma made inflammatory comments against the Prophet of Islam, which led to widespread condemnation in the country.
The BJP on Sunday suspended Sharma from the party while distancing itself from her offensive remarks.
Earlier in the day, Amir-Abdollahian pointed out that the Indian government has categorically condemned the offensive remarks.
He said India “has long been following the path of peaceful coexistence, and adherents of all religions have lived there in peace and tranquility.”
“We expected to hear Indian leaders speak out about peaceful coexistence of all religions and sects, as we have seen throughout the country’s history. We hope Indian authorities will reiterate this stance in the talks,” he said.
During his trip to India, Amir-Abdollahian is also scheduled to hold talks with senior officials and meet religious scholars and local figures, as well as Iranian business people and expatriates. His itinerary also includes visits to Mumbai and Hyderabad.
“Relations between Tehran and New Delhi are at a very good level. We are witnessing growth and development of comprehensive relations, including in the economic and cultural fields, and exchange of delegations between the two countries, ever since the new administration took office” in Iran, Amir-Abdollahian told reporters upon arrival.
The Iranian foreign minister explained that he had reached an agreement with his Indian counterpart in Tehran earlier this year to draw up a roadmap for long-term cooperation between the two countries.