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Rajnath, Iranian defence minister discuss situation in Afghanistan

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Iranian counterpart Brigadier General Mohammed Reza Gharaei Ashtiyani on Thursday exchanged views on regional security issues, including peace and stability in Afghanistan.

In their meeting in the national capital, the two ministers also discussed the development of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) for transport links to Afghanistan.

The talks took place hours after Ashtiyani, Iran's Minister of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics, arrived here to attend a meeting of the defence ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) today.

In a tweet, Singh said: "Had a wonderful interaction with Iran's Defence Minister, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiyani."

"The meeting took place in a cordial and warm atmosphere. Both the leaders emphasised on the age-old cultural, linguistic and civilizational ties between the two countries, including people-to-people connect," the defence ministry said.

It said both the ministers reviewed the bilateral defence cooperation and exchanged views on regional security issues, including peace and stability in Afghanistan.

"Further, the two ministers discussed the development of the International North South Transport Corridor to ease logistic problems to Afghanistan and other countries in Central Asia," it said in a statement.

The INSTC is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode transport project for moving freight among India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

Singh also held separate bilateral meetings with defence minister of Kazakhstan Colonel General Ruslan Zhaxylykov and Tajikistan's Colonel General Sherali Mirzo.

"The entire spectrum of defence cooperation with the two countries was reviewed during the meetings, with focus on identifying avenues to expand mutually beneficial collaboration. Issues of mutual interest were also discussed," the ministry said.

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