September 30, 2018 | Lodhi’s Speech at UN
September 29, 2018 | China rebuts US allegations
| Russian missiles challenge
September 28, 2018 | Iran defies America
| Britain and the EU
Iran President Hassan Rouhani three-day official visit to India in February came at a juncture when tensions are cascading in Iran’s standoff with the US and Israel. It signifies Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strategic defiance of the US.
Sensing a seismic shift in India’s foreign policy perspectives the US President Donald Trump had telephoned
Modi earlier to address issues as far apart as North Korea, Afghanistan and the Maldives.
Trump’s intention was to mark his territory. Modi’s office is yet to deliver its customary readout.
Earlier Trump had unveiled his 2018 National Security plan, projecting Iran as a threat to the security of US allies in the Middle East.
Signaling dissent, Delhi had made it clear that India-Iran ties will be advanced, no matter what the US thinks of them.
Rouhani’s visit confirms Indian investments in infrastructure projects in Iran in the face of threatened US sanctions.
Iran’s oil exports to India surged to 20 million tons in the first nine months of the current financial year.
Energy cooperation was, therefore, be a major topic of discussion between Modi and Rouhani, while the entry of Russian oil companies to develop Iran’s gas fields opens a new vista of trilateral cooperation.
Rosneft, one of the Russian companies active in Iran acquired an Indian private refiner (Essar Oil) in a US$13 billion deal last year.
And, Rosneft’s Indian subsidiary has ambitious plans to invest US$30 billion in the Indian retail market for refined petroleum products.
Pertinently, Russia and Iran are also planning to switch to using national currencies to settle by the end of 2018.
India is already working on a transportation route through Chabahar Port, in southeastern Iran, to access Afghanistan and has also signed the Ashgabat Agreement, a concord involving Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Oman and Iran to enhance regional connectivity.
And there are no restrictions laid down. India is free to maintain ties with Israel and petrodollar states in the Persian Gulf, some of which are on adversarial terms with Iran.
Similarly, Iran’s strong ties with China are no longer resented by Delhi.
While both Modi and Putin are fiercely nationalistic in their world outlook they erect no barriers to blunt the others’ policy pursuits.
Iran expresses strong view about the need for the US to vacate Afghanistan but India strives to blend with regional opinion, especially Russia’s and Iran’s, while making its own assessments of the situation which rivet in on fighting terrorism.
Modi’s “pro-American” tilt was not visible either, veering instead toward engaging with China constructively.
But the larger picture conflicts.
India remains with the US on its Asia-Pacific strategy and which has taken India and China to the brink of war to leave US in a position to dictate.
And, Modi seems to have understood this.
There were signs of his growing disillusionment with the US in St. Petersburg last year, with Modi describing his meeting with President Putin as “very productive”.
There are nevertheless contradictions.
India cast its vote on the western resolution in the United Nations condemning Russia on human rights violations in Crimea and Sevastopol.
In like vein Rouhani’s visit to India was kept secret until the penultimate hour, to show that Modi plays his cards very close to its chest. Click here to watch details about PM Modi.