S Jaishankar raises drone attack with Iran; Chabahar Port gains focus for Central Asia trade

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Jaishankar’s Iran visit was preceded by a telephone call to him by the US Secretary of the State Antony Blinken. It has also been suggested in some quarters that the US has shared intelligence with India on the drone attacks on MV Chem Pluto.

EAM S Jaishankar in Iran

EAM S Jaishankar in Iran

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, January 16: External Affairs Minister Subhramanyam Jaishankar raised the issue of the drone attacks on a ship in the vicinity of the Indian coastline with Iran. Jaishankar raised the issue with Iran, stressing that it has ramifications for India’s energy security.

Addressing a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Jaishankar also raised the issue of the ongoing Middle East tension. He also raised the issue of the risks to the maritime trade during the joint press conference. He met the top leadership of Iran, President Ebrahim Raisi and expressed condolences over the Kerman attack.

He also met secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Akbar Ahmadian. Jaishankar said that Ahmadian will soon be visiting India. Jaishankar stressed that India and Iran have an age-old relations. He mentioned that the Iranian language Farsi has been included among the eight languages in the New Education Policy of India.

While reviewing the whole gamut of the bilateral relations, Jaishankar said that the Chaabahar Port is key to trade with Afghanistan and the Central Asia. India and Iran have been jointly executing the port, which is seen as an Indian effort to connect with the Central Asia by avoiding Pakistan.

The visit of Jaishankar to Iran has come in the backdrop of the deepening Red Sea crisis. The US-based strategic affairs commentators had been speculating that Jaishankar may also raise the issue of the drone attack on an Indian ship in the Arabian Sea just 200 nautical miles off the Indian coast last month.

Jaishankar underlined the close working with Iran as Tehran has recently been inducted into BRICS as well. The Houthi attacks in the Red Sea pose grave risk to the international trade. The global supply chains in the event of disruption may see a shift to East Asia, according to experts in the areas of strategic affairs.

Before embarking on the Iran visit, Jaishankar in his book promotion event in Nagpur recently had underlined that Indians constitute the largest workforce in the international shipping industry. He had stated that it was pertinent to safeguard the interests of the Indian workforce employed in the shipping industry.

But Jaishankar’s Iran visit was preceded by a telephone call to him by the US Secretary of the State Antony Blinken. It has also been suggested in some quarters that the US has shared intelligence with India on the drone attacks on MV Chem Pluto.

The western nations allege that the Houthi rebels are backed by Iran. Also, Iran along with Turkey are known to have top-end drones. The attacks on the ships in the Red Sea are mounted on drones. In this backdrop, Jaishankar is also likely to lean on the Indian relations with Iran to persuade the leadership in Tehran to cease the Houthi attacks on ships.

It may be recalled that the Houthi rebels had initially said that they would attack the Israel bound ships. But afterwards they are seen to be attacking other ships as well. The US and the UK have deployed warships to counter the Houthi attacks. There are apprehensions that the Houthi attacks could broaden the scope of the Middle East tension.   

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