NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday, reaffirmed India's support for maintaining peace and security in the Persian Gulf region through diplomacy and dialogue, a PTI report said.
The Modi-Rouhani meet came in the backdrop of a spike in tensions in the region following the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities earlier this month.
However, there was no word on whether India, one of the buyers of Iranian crude before 2 May when the US sanctions targeting the Iranian oil industry kicked in, would resume supplies as per a key demand from Tehran. The six-month long exemption from US sanctions to India and seven other countries to buy oil from Iran expired on 2 May.
India, the world's third biggest oil consumer, meets more than 80% of its oil needs through imports. Iran was its third largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia till recently.
Modi and Rouhani are in New York for the UN General Assembly session and the two met on the sidelines of the 74th session on Thursday amid fresh tensions between Iran and the US. US President Donald Trump labelled Iran as “repressive", slamming the country for the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in his speech at the UN General Assembly. Yemen’s Houthi rebels, seen as backed by Iran, took responsibility for the attack. The 14 September attacks caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War.
Modi and Rouhani discussed bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and global developments of mutual interest. Modi reiterated “India's support for giving priority to diplomacy, dialogue and confidence building in the interest of maintaining peace, security and stability in the Gulf region, which is of vital importance for India", the PTI report said.
Noting that India and Iran shared old and civilisational ties, the two leaders assessed the progress in bilateral relations since their first meeting in the Russian city of Ufa in 2015. Modi had travelled to Iran in 2016 and Rouhani had visited India in 2018.
The two leaders also discussed the development of the Chabahar Port and noted its importance as gateway to the landlocked Afghanistan and the Central Asian region. It was during Modi’s 2016 visit that India and Iran signed a key pact to develop the strategic Chabahar Port that will allow India access to Central Asia and Afghanistan. Later, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement for transport of goods among the three countries through the port.
During the meeting, it was also agreed to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations next year.