Updated: January 6, 2020 12:18:00 am
As Iran-USA tensions escalate over the killing of Iranian military commander Maj. Gen Qassem Soleimani, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar Sunday spoke to his counterpart in Tehran, Javad Zarif, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Just concluded a conversation with FM @JZarif 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,” Jaishankar tweeted.
A few hours later, the foreign minister tweeted about his conversation with Pompeo. “Had a telephonic discussion with Secretary of State @SecPompeo on the evolving situation in the Gulf region. Highlighted India’s stakes and concerns.”
After his discussion with Jaishankar, Pompeo in a tweet said, “S Jaishankar and I spoke just now 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”.
.@DrSJaishankar and I spoke just now 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.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 5, 2020
The conversations came on a day of an all-out Twitter war between US President Donald Trump and Iran’s ministers, with the former claiming to have identified 52 sites of cultural importance in Iran as potential targets and vowing to hit Iran “harder than ever” if it tries to avenge Soleimani’s killing, and Iran’s Information and Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi comparing Trump to Hitler, Genghis Khan and ISIS.
“Like ISIS, like Hitler, Like Genghis! They all hate cultures. Trump is a “terrorist in a suit”. He will learn history very soon that NOBODY can defeat “the Great Iranian Nation & Culture,” Jahromi tweeted.
….targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
Iran’s foreign minister Zarif said by threatening to target the 52 sites, Trump was threatening to violate international law. “Having committed grave breaches of int’l law in Friday’s cowardly assassinations, @realdonaldtrump threatens to commit again new breaches of JUS COGENS. Targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME. Whether kicking or screaming, end of US malign presence in West Asia has begun,” he tweeted.
India has longstanding diplomatic relations with both the US and Iran. Iran has been the largest exporter of oil to India, and India has developed the Chabahar port in southeastern Iran.
After Soleimani’s killing, New Delhi had reacted cautiously, urging “restraint”, noting “a senior Iranian leader has been killed by the US” — without naming Soleimani — underlining that “peace, stability and security in this region is of utmost importance to India” and it was “vital that the situation does not escalate further”.
Also, Trump had claimed Soleimani “contributed to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London” — a charge India has not reacted to.
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