External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will embark on a four day visit to Iran and Moscow today. Mrs Swaraj’s Iran visit is aimed to step up engagement in a range of areas including oil and trade as the strategically important Persian Gulf nation is now ready to resume business as usual after lifting of sanctions under a historic nuclear deal.
Iran is an important country for India for its energy security as well as to get access to oil and gas-rich Central Asian nations. Following lifting of sanctions against Iran, India has been eying deeper energy ties with that country and has already lined up 20 billion US dollar as investment in oil and gas as well as petrochemical and fertilizer projects there.
In Tehran, Mrs Swaraj will hold extensive talks with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif . The External Affairs Minister will also call on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
From Iran, Mrs Swaraj will leave for a two-day trip to Moscow to attend the annual Foreign Ministers’ meeting of Russia, India and China. On the sidelines of event Mrs Swaraj is expected to meet her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during which she is likely to raise the issue of China blocking India’s bid to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar by the UN.