New Delhi: Amid escalating Western pressure on the Iranian nuclear programme, India and Iran Thursday held talks to explore ways to counter the threat of Taliban`s resurgence in Afghanistan and agreed to intensify their economic and energy ties.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Fathollahi held wide-ranging talks with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao focused on boosting bilateral relations in the face of UN and US international sanctions against Tehran.
Ways to stem the influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and its backers in Pakistan figured prominently in the discussions, said informed sources.
The two sides agreed to stay in close touch over Afghanistan to safeguard their interests in the wake of the Taliban reintegration process, said the sources.
Fathollahi`s visit takes place less nearly three weeks after the two sides held a meeting of their joint commission where Tehran agreed to expedite the India-aided Chabahar port that could ease New Delhi’s outreach in both Afghanistan and Central Asia.
They also decided to firm up a regional approach that will include closer cooperation with Russia in averting a Taliban takeover that some fear may happen after US troops begin to withdraw from that country in July.
Earlier this week, Rao was in Moscow to discuss the Afghan situation with key Russian officials.
An online whistle blower leaked 92,000 US military documents showing Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence support for the Taliban, confirming what New Delhi has been saying all along.
India and Iran, along with Russia, had backed the Northern Alliance in the days leading to the ouster of the Taliban regime in 2001.
India sees Iranian cooperation crucial to preventing hostile forces from gaining control of Afghanistan.
With the US issuing a fresh warning to Iran to curb its nuclear programme, India reiterated its position about the need for diplomacy to resolve the issue and stressed that it should be resolved within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Sanctions against Iran, India has conveyed to the US, have the potential to impinge New Delhi`s energy security.