Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday. This came a day before the prime minister is scheduled to address the world body.

The two leaders discussed the progress of the Chabahar Port project, which India has helped develop. “They [the leaders] especially mentioned operationalisation of Chabahar Port and noted its importance as gateway to and for the landlocked Afghanistan and the Central Asian region,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

The Chabahar Port has been described as a counterstep to the Gwadar Port that Pakistan is developing with investment from China. Last year, Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had recommended their linking. He said both Chabahar and the Gwadar port – which is an important link in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project – are crucial for the development of eastern and south-eastern Iran, and South Western Pakistan.

Modi reiterated India’s priority to diplomacy, dialogue and confidence building to maintain peace, security and stability in the Gulf region. “It was agreed to mark the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations in 2020,” the ministry added.

The two leaders had failed to meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Kyrgyzstan’s Capital Bishkek in June because of schedule conflicts. Iran is important to India because it is the third-largest supplier of oil after Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

The meeting between Modi and Rouhani came at a time Tehran’s tensions with the United States have skyrocketed. The Donald Trump administration has blamed Iran for orchestrating the attack on two Saudi oil fields almost two weeks back. The attacks disrupted the global oil supply and caused oil prices to soar. Iran warned the US it would retaliate against any attack after Washington send additional troops to Saudi Arabia.

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