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“Benefits everyone”: S Jaishankar responds to US sanction threat over Chabahar deal with Iran

At an event in Kolkata, the Indian External Affairs Minister emphasized on diplomacy and criticized the West for trying to influence India's policies.

S Jaishankar made the comments at his book launch event in Kolkata. / X/@DrSJaishankar

Reacting to the US possibly sanctioning India after the latter signed a deal with Iran to run the Chabahar Port, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on May.14 said that people shouldn't have a “narrow view” because the project will "benefit everyone".

“I saw some of the remarks that were made. But I think it is a question of communicating, convincing, and getting people to understand that this (Chabahar Port) is actually for everyone's benefit. There should not be any narrow view for it," Jaishankar said, referring to remarks made on May.13 by US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel.

"We're aware of these reports that Iran and India have signed a deal concerning the Chabahar port,” Patel had said in a media briefing. “I will let the Government of India speak to its own foreign policy goals vis-a-vis the Chabahar Port as well as its own bilateral relationship with Iran. I will just say, as it relates to the United States, US sanctions on Iran remain in place and we will continue to enforce them.”

However, Jaishankar added that the US in the past had not taken a negative view of Chabahar in particular. "They (US) have not done so in the past. So, if you look at the US' own attitude towards the port in Chabahar, the US has been appreciative of the fact that Chabahar has a larger relevance...we will work at it."

The Chabahar Port is expected to serve as a hub for the International North-South Transport Corridor — a 7,200-km-long multimode transport project for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Central Asia, Russia and Europe.

Discussions to develop the port were first held during the then Iran President Muhammad Khatami's 2003 visit to India. In 2013, India invested $100 million for its development. An MoU was signed in 2015 for further development of the port before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to Iran in 2016.

Jaishankar takes dig at West for “lecturing” India

At the May.14 event, S Jaishankar also slammed the Western media for their “negative coverage” of the Indian elections.

“They (Western countries) do want to influence us because many of these countries feel that they have influenced this world for the last 70-80 years...Western countries actually feel that they influenced the world for the last 200 years. How do you expect someone who has been in that position to give up those old habits so easily?”

Why are newspapers in the West “so negative on India?” he asked.

“Because they see an India that is not in a sense compliant with their image of how India should be. They want people, ideology, or a way of life...they want that class of people to rule this country, and they are disturbed when the Indian population feels otherwise," the foreign minister said.

Jaishankar was referring to The Washington Post investigative article that alleged Indian involvement in a foiled assassination plot of pro-Khalistan Sikh leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on US soil.

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