External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

Amid the widespread anger in the Islamic nations over the ‘Prophet remark row’, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held a detailed discussion on how to boost ties between India and Iran. Abdollahian is on a three-day visit to India. He also held a detailed discussion with NSA Ajit Doval.

During the wide-ranging talks, the Iranian foreign minister stressed on the need to further enhance the bilateral ties in what is being seen as a message that Tehran is

keen to go ahead with its normal ties with New Delhi despite all the controversy. Jaishankar and Hossein also discussed key regional and global developments, including the situation in Afghanistan, including the issue of terrorism.

Sources told The Daily Guardian Review that the Iranian Foreign Minister appreciated that the leaders who made objectionable remarks against Prophet Muhammad were suspended and sacked from the ruling party in India. That both the leaders also apologized has gone down well with the Iranian government.  

He said that the Indian government has taken a stance and categorically condemned them. “India has long been following the path of peaceful coexistence, and adherents of all religions have lived there in peace and tranquility,” the Iranian foreign minister said. He also pointed out that Muslims cannot accept desecration of the Prophet of Islam in any way.

Talking to reporters before the meeting, the Iranian leader signaled that he has come to India with a positive approach unaffected by the present developments. Accordingly, he said, “We expected to hear Indian leaders speak out about peaceful coexistence of all religions and sects, as we have seen throughout the country’s history. We hope Indian authorities will reiterate this stance in the talks.” Sources said that Iranian foreign minister was apprised of India’s stand that it respects all religions at the various meetings that took place. He also met the NSA Ajiv Doval.  

“Relations between Tehran and New Delhi are at a very good level. We are witnessing growth and development of comprehensive relations, including in the economic and cultural fields, and exchange of delegations between the two countries, ever since the new administration took office” in Iran, Amir-Abdollahian told reporters upon arrival.

Sources said that the Iranian FM is satisfied with the statement made by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) two days ago on the controversy.  “The offensive tweets and comments denigrating a religious personality were made by certain individuals. They do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. Strong action has already been taken against these individuals by relevant bodies,” the MEA statement had said.

It is the first visit to India by a senior minister of a member nation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) after the controversial remarks triggered anguish in the Arab World. “Welcoming FM @Amirabdolahian to New Delhi. Our discussions today will reflect our close and friendly relations,” Jaishankar said in a tweet ahead of the talks.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the visit by the Iranian foreign minister will further “boost the deep historical ties and partnership” between the two countries. Abdollahian’s visit to India comes days after Iran joined Kuwait and Qatar in summoning the Indian ambassadors over the remarks against the Prophet by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal.

Since then, several countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Bahrain, the Maldives, Malaysia, Oman, Iraq and Libya, have denounced the comments. The MEA on Monday categorically rejected the criticism of India by the OIC following the comments on the Prophet.

According to the MEA, Abdollahian will travel to Mumbai and Hyderabad after concluding his engagements in New Delhi. Iran has been a key country for India in the Gulf region.