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U.S.-Iran unrest | Jaishankar discusses Gulf tensions with Iran, Oman, U.S. and UAE

S. Jaishankar. File

S. Jaishankar. File  

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Noted that developments have taken a very serious turn, says External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Sunday spoke to his counterparts in Iran, Oman,  the United States and the United Arab Emirates regarding the escalating tension in the Gulf. The exchanges were a part of the international consultations among various stakeholders that began soon after Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani was killed in an American drone attack in Baghdad.

"Just concluded a conversation with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif of Iran. Noted that developments have taken a very serious turn. India remains deeply concerned about the levels of tension. We agreed to remain in touch," said the Indian minister in a social media message. 

Sunday's exchanges were the first since Maj. Gen Soleimani was assassinated on January 3. Hours after the assassination, India had described the slain military figure as a "senior Iranian leader" saying peace, stability and security in the Gulf as of "utmost importance" to the country. The Indian position is borne out of the fact that the Gulf region hosts nearly seven million Indian citizens who constitute one of the largest foreign work force in the region. That apart India is also partnering the port of Chabahar in Iran that will be used to connect India with Afghanistan and Central Asia. Any conflict with Iran will adversely affect India's investments in Chahbahar.

Late on Sunday evening, Mr Jaishankar sent out a series of social media messages informing that he had telephonic conversation also with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Oman's foreign minister Yusuf Alawi, and Abdullah Bin Zayed of UAE. "Had a telephonic discussion with Secretary of State Pompeo on the evolving situation in the Gulf region. Highlighted India's stakes and concerns," said the Indian minister in his message.

Explained: Is West Asia headed for war?

The US Secretary of State however indicated that he presented the American side of the narrative saying, "Dr S Jaishankar and I spoke... regarding Iran's continued threats and provocations. The Trump Administration won't hesitate to act to keep American lives, and those of our friends and allies, safe." An official source acknowledged the divergence in Indian and American ways of thinking regarding Iran and said, "both may have shared their perspective on the situation."

Mr Zarif and Mr Jaishankar met in Tehran on December 22 for the 19th India-Iran joint commission meeting during which both sides agreed on accelerating cooperation to complete the infrastructure projects in Chabahar. There has been some speculation among India's diplomacy watchers as the leading US figures did not consult  

India immediately after the operation in Baghdad. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan army, and several other global figures before the discussion with his Indian counterpart on Sunday.

Also read: Qassem Soleimani's body returned to Iran

Indian mission in Tehran is maintaining a close watch on the developing situation in the region and has issued an oral advisory through the Gurudwara of Tehran advising Indian citizens to avoid crowded spaces. However, members of the Indian community based in Iran have said that they will attend the funeral procession of Major General Qassem Soleimani that will be held in Tehran on Monday morning.

"We are also sharing the grief of the Iranian people as they are in mourning following the murder of  General Soleimani. The Iranians consider him a real hero and therefore there will be a very large crowd that will attend his funeral  in Tehran tomorrow," said Dr. N. A Soufi, an Indian commentator based in Tehran.  India-Iran diplomatic exchanges are expected to intensify in the next few days as Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is expected to visit New Delhi to participate in the Raisina Dialogue during January 14-16.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 11:08:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-iran-unrest-jaishankar-holds-conversation-with-iran-foreign-minister/article30486092.ece

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