NSA Doval takes up terror issue in afghanistan with his Iranian counterpart


Days after Iranian Defence Minister Reza Gharaei Ashtiani’s visit to India, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval on Monday held talks with his Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani in Tehran. “Security and connectivity issues, with Afghanistan and Pakistan in the background were the key items on the agenda discussed between Doval and Shamkhani,” diplomatic sources told The Daily Guardian. “India and Iran will ramp up cooperation on ongoing key projects and on security issues,” sources said. Ali Shamkhani is secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC).
According to sources, apart from reviewing the ongoing connectivity projects, the NSAs of India and Iran discussed the way to increase security and intelligence cooperation. “Curbing terrorism and terrorist financing in Afghanistan was one of the major security concerns that figured during the talks,” sources said. As Iran shares a long boundary with Afghanistan, New Delhi is interested in ramping up security and intelligence cooperation with Tehran to keep a close watch over terror activities emanating from Afghanistan and Pakistan (AfPak) region, sources said.
The two NSAs discussed the current situation in Afghanistan and its impact on the security and stability of the region, sources told TDG. India and Iran will be working to ensure that terrorist groups do not find safe haven in Afghanistan. NSA Doval during talks with his Iranian counterpart mentioned about the recent changes in the Iran-Saudi relations. He also emphasised on the continuation of joint cooperation to stabilize Afghanistan, calling for formation of an inclusive government in Kabul.
NSA Doval reportedly told his Iranian counterpart that “We consider Chabahar as India’s gateway to comprehensive economic cooperation with Iran, and we are ready to increase our efforts to solve existing problems.”  According to Iran’s official news agency, Doval and Shamkhani discussed economic, political and security issues concerning the two countries, “as well as the most important regional and international developments”.
Only last week, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Iranian counterpart Brigadier General Ashtiani reviewed the progress of the key International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which is a 7,200 km multi-mode transport project to facilitate movement of freight along Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe, besides the two countries. India has been pushing for increased regional connectivity and the development of the Chabahar port in Iran. New Delhi has proposed to include the port in the framework of the INSTC. As the Chabahar port is seen as central to connectivity to central Asia, Doval discussed the project with his Iranian counterpart.
According to sources, Iran’s formal admission into the SCO was also a key item on the agenda during discussions between the two security officials. Iran is also said to have raised the matter of its prospective entry into the BRICS. However, India is non-committal over Iran’s proposal to be part of this grouping. “As Iran is a key for India’s access to Russia and Central Asia and Afghanistan, New Delhi is keen to deepen ties with Tehran,” sources said.