Iran foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian arrived in India to a "warm welcome" to hold talks with external affairs minister S Jaishankar amid widespread anger in West Asian countries over controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad made by two BJP leaders, against whom party has taken action. Abdollahian is on a three-day visit with an aim to further enhance bilateral ties, Trend reports citing Hindustan Times.
“Foreign Minister of Iran, Dr. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian arrives to a warm welcome in India. The visit will further boost our deep historical ties and partnership,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs, wrote on Twitter.
Jaishankar and Abdollahian will hold talks at 1 pm on Wednesday. The Iranian minister will travel to Mumbai and Hyderabad after concluding his engagements in New Delhi.
Abdollahian's is the first visit to India by a senior minister of a member nation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation after the controversial remarks on the Prophet triggered outrage in the Arab world and soon spread to other Muslim-majority countries. His visit comes two days after Iran joined Arab nations in summoning the Indian envoys to lodge protest against the remarks by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and party's Delhi media cell head Naveen Kumar Jindal.
Since then, over a dozen countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Bahrain, Maldives, Malaysia, Oman, Iraq and Libya have denounced the comments.
The Indian embassies in Qatar and Kuwait responded to the objection saying the comments "made by fringe elements" do not reflect the views of the government, highlighting that action was taken against the two persons by “relevant bodies”.
India and Iran have been jointly focusing on improving connectivity between South East Asia and Central Asia. Located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on Iran's southern coast, Chabahar Port is expected to become a key regional transit hub. It is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost connectivity and trade ties.