Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Iran's Foreign Minister Javed Zarif in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Twitter/PMO)
Amid tensions between the US and Iran over the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday told Iran's Foreign Minister Javed Zarif that India had a strong interest in peace, security, and stability in the region. Zarif met PM Modi on the sidelines of the 'Raisina Dialogue' in New Delhi
"The Foreign Minister shared his perspectives on the recent developments in the region. The Prime Minister mentioned India's strong interest in peace, security, and stability in the region," a statement by the Prime Minister's Office said.
The meeting between PM Modi and comes on the back of escalating tensions in the Gulf region, days after the killing of Soleimani, who was in charge of the Quds Force of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in a US drone strike. Iran later launched ballistic missile strikes on two US military bases in Iraq in retaliation against the January 3 killing of Soleimani.
Following the killing of Soleimani, the MEA had said it would like the situation to de-escalate as soon as possible, underlining that “peace, stability, and security in this region is of utmost importance to India”.
PM Modi also thanked Iranian leadership for the progress in the Chabahar project, including designating it as Special Economic Zone. Modi also reiterated India's continued commitment to developing strong and friendly relations with Iran.
"PM reiterated India's continued commitment to developing strong & friendly relations with Iran. He thanked Iranian leadership for the progress in the Chabahar project, including through designating it as Special Economic Zone," the PMO said. The Chabahar port is considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran, and Afghanistan with central Asian nations.
India has longstanding diplomatic relations with both the US and Iran. Iran has been the largest exporter of oil to India, and India has developed the Chabahar port in southeastern Iran.
Earlier in the day, Zarif said India could play a role in "de-escalating tensions in the Gulf region as New Delhi is an important player". Even last week, Iran’s Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni said Tehran would welcome any peace initiative by New Delhi to de-escalate tension with Washington.
“India usually plays a very good role in (maintaining) peace in the world. India belongs to this region. We welcome all initiatives from all countries, especially India as a good friend, to not allow escalation (of tensions),” Chegeni told reporters in New Delhi.