India on Wednesday urged its nationals to avoid travelling to Iraq in view of the escalating tension and war-like situation in the West Asian region . In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) assured the Indian missions in Iraq will function normally to help Indians as the Ambassador of Iran here assured de-escalation and urged for mediation by India.
“In view of the prevailing situation in Iraq, Indian nationals are advised to avoid all non-essential travel to Iraq until further notification. Our Embassy in Baghdad and Consulate in Erbil will continue to function normally to provide all services to Indians residing in Iraq,” stated the travel advisory issued by the MEA.
The Ministry urged Indians in Iraq to remain vigilant of the evolving situation especially after Iran fired missiles at Al Asad airbase and at a U.S. base in Erbil in retaliation for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.
The Embassy of Iran here opened a book of condolence for the assassinated general who is credited with defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Inaugurating the book, Iran’s Ambassador Ali Chegeni said, “Iran does not want escalation of tension and hostilities with the United States and is willing to consider if India wishes to mediate. We will welcome such initiatives.” The Ambassador met 1971 war veteran Major Chandrakant Singh who was among the first to sign the book of condolence for Soleimani.
Paying tribute to Soleimani, Major Chandrakant Singh described him as a strong friend of India in West Asia. “General Soleimani helped us when our citizens were abducted in Yemen. It was he who had negotiated with the Houthis to free our citizens. That apart, he was instrumental in ensuring the safety of Chabahar port.”
He also observed that by defeating ISIS, Soleimani had helped India’s main security concern in Kashmir.