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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh leaves Russia for Iran

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday left Moscow for Iran where he will meet his Iranian counterpart and discuss bilateral defence ties, a day after he urged the Persian Gulf countries to resolve their differences through dialogue based on mutual respect.

Singh was in Moscow on a three-day visit to Russia to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) defence ministers. He also held bilateral talks with his counterparts from Russia, China and the Central Asian countries.

“Leaving Moscow for Tehran. I shall be meeting the Defence Minister of Iran, Brigadier General Amir Hatami,” Singh said in a tweet.

India on Friday said that it was “deeply concerned” about the situation in the Persian Gulf and called upon the countries in the region to resolve their differences by dialogue based on mutual respect.

A series of incidents in the Persian Gulf involving Iran, the US and the UAE in recent weeks have flared up tension in the region.

“We are deeply concerned about the situation in the Persian Gulf,” Singh said in his address at a meeting of the SCO here. “We call upon countries in the region – all of which are dear and friendly to India, to resolve differences by dialogue based on mutual respect, sovereignty and non interference in internal affairs of each other,” he said in his address at the combined meeting of defence ministers of the SCO, Collective Security Treaty Organisation and Commonwealth of Independent States member states.

Last month, Iranian navy briefly seized control of a Liberian-flagged oil tanker in what the US said were international waters near the Strait of Hormuz, which links the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman to the south and the Arabian Sea beyond.

Iran has threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if the United States tries to strangle its economy.

The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations which accounts for almost 44 per cent of the world population stretching from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea.