India expressed concern over the situation arising from the killing early on Friday of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in an attack that also killed the chief of an Iraqi militia.
“We have noted that a senior Iranian leader has been killed by the U.S.,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement that did not directly criticise Washington, but cautioned against any escalation. The killing comes ahead of the MEA’s annual “Raisina Dialogue” in which Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is expected to participate on January 14.
“The increase in tension has alarmed the world. Peace, stability and security in this region are of utmost importance to India. It is vital that the situation does not escalate further. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so,” the MEA statement added.
Speaking about the U.S. strike in Iraq, officials said the government would continue to walk a “tightrope” over growing tensions between Iran and the United States, given the importance of both relationships, as well as the importance of stability in West Asia.
More than eight million Indians live and work in the region, contributing a large part in remittances back home. India sources more than 2/3rds of its oil from West Asia, mainly Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and any retaliation from Iran will affect its supplies. Its energy bill, that has gone up due to its decision last year to cancel oil from Iran due to U.S. sanctions, will spike further with oil prices going up in the region.
On Friday, after the U.S. confirmed it had ordered the strike on General Soleimani, Brent Crude Futures rose 4.3% to $69.08 per barrel. The future of India’s Chabahar port project, which is key to the government’s connectivity plans for Afghanistan and Central Asia also hangs in the balance as tensions rise in the region.