New Delhi: India and Iran on Monday reviewed their bilateral ties and plans to strengthen connectivity through Indian investment in Iran’s Chabahar port besides import of Iranian crude oil in the wake of the US imposing sanctions on Tehran.

Both sides agreed to “maintain the momentum of mutually beneficial multifaceted bilateral cooperation and exchanges between the two sides", according to an Indian statement released at the end of the talks in New Delhi.

The stock taking exercise took place during the 15th Foreign Office Consultations between India and Iran. The Indian side was led by foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale and the Iranian delegation was led by visiting deputy foreign minister Seyyed Abbas Araghchi.

The talks come as New Delhi is looking at ways to balance its ties with Iran that it considers a key partner in energy and connectivity with those with the US, who New Delhi views as a vital source of cutting edge technology and investments.

In May, US President Donald Trump announced that the US was pulling out of an international agreement reached with Iran in 2015—Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—under which the international community would lift a series of sanctions imposed on Tehran in return for the Shia majority nation stopping the enrichment of uranium and allowing international inspectors to monitor its nuclear facilities.

Trump also announced the reimposition of sanctions on Tehran with the punitive measures impacting investments in infrastructure as well as energy.

India is one of the major importers of Iranian fuel and is facing pressure from the US to cut its imports. Last week, news reports quoted an Iranian diplomat warning New Delhi that any cuts in Iranian fuel imports would lead to Iran blocking Indian investments in infrastructure projects. This assumes significance as New Delhi is looking to develop Iran’s Chabahar port in a bid to access landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia given its hostile relations with Pakistan.

“Both sides reviewed and positively assessed the progress in implementation of decisions taken during the state visit of the President of Iran (Hassan Rouhani) to India in February 2018, especially for enhancing connectivity and strengthening cooperation in trade and economic issues and in the promotion of people-to-people exchanges," according to an Indian statement.

“Views were also exchanged on regional and international issues of mutual interest, including the efforts being made by various parties to address issues that have arisen over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)," it said.

Both sides also agreed to hold the next joint commission meeting at the level of foreign ministers in Iran in November 2018, it said.

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