India to engage with Iran on Afghanistan

India will shortly hold high-level discussions with Iran as part of its strategy to hold consultations with all regional stakeholders to stabilise Afghanistan and develop alternate energy transit sources and routes.

New Delhi is currently holding consultations with Uzbekistan, which shares ethnic ties with a section of the Afghan people. And before that, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao visited Kyrgyzstan to discuss, among other things, how the country's leadership is looking at the evolving situation in Afghanistan. Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur visited another Central Asian country Turkmenistan, again to discuss Afghanistan and energy issues, diplomatic sources say.

These consultations on Afghanistan and energy were topped by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during the latter's one-day visit here last week, and with the top Saudi Arabian leadership during Dr. Singh's first visit to a Gulf country earlier this month.

Indian diplomatic moves acquired momentum after it was excluded from a preparatory meeting for the London conference on Afghanistan and felt Pakistan could acquire a prominent role following its success in nabbing several top Afghan Taliban leaders of ‘Quetta Shura' and its perceived hold over some of the organisations engaged against NATO troops.

The U.S. move to funnel supplies for soldiers in Afghanistan through the Northern Distribution Network, a commercially-based logistical corridor connecting the Baltic and Black Sea ports with Afghanistan through Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, has also increased the significance of these countries in settling the Afghan question. In line with the increasing reliance on these countries for sending supplies, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke visited four Central Asian countries for bilateral talks on Afghanistan.

Of these countries, India is especially keen on closer engagement with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Iran in view of the close linkages with western and northern Afghanistan.

All U.S. supplies into Afghanistan come from several routes, but converge in Uzbekistan, and India is currently assessing its leadership's views based on its close ties with Afghan Uzbeks, some of whom have fallen out of favour with the current U.S. administration.

In the area of energy, India has broached with Turkmenistan the possibility of sending its gas to northern Iran.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 7:36:46 AM |

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