India was closely monitoring the simmering US-Iran tensions and would like the situation to “de-escalate as quickly as possible”, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday.
“We are closely monitoring the situation. Peace, security and stability in the region is of utmost importance to us. We are talking to several stakeholders. The External Affairs Minister has spoken to players in the region,” Kumar was quoted by ANI as saying.
“In the past, the US has shown understanding on the importance of Chabahar project. How the whole thing is going to impact is hypothetical, we’ll have to see. But, we do appreciate US exempting Chabahar port from the sanctions,” Kumar added.
In December 2019, the US had exempted the Chabahar port in Iran — being jointly developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan — from sanctions, saying it recognised that the port was a lifeline for Afghanistan to get humanitarian supplies from India.
“We have provided a narrow exemption (to India) for the development of Chabahar that allows for the construction of the port and the rail line that allows for the export of refined oil products to Afghanistan,” a senior State Department official had said.
Relations between Washinton and Tehran have worsened dramatically since Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US drone attack in Baghdad on January 3.
India has longstanding diplomatic relations with both Iran and America. On January 5, foreign minister S Jaishankar spoke to his counterpart in Tehran, Javad Zarif, as well as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, highlighting India’s concerns.
The Chabahar port is considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran, and Afghanistan with central Asian nations. It is located on the Indian Ocean in the Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran. Easily accessible from India’s western coast, the port is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which is being developed with the Chinese investment.