Two days after the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in an American drone strike, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar spoke to his counterparts in Iran and the United States on Sunday. While he expressed India’s deep concern over the situation with Iran, in his talk with the US, he mentioned India’s interests.
In a tweet, Jaishankar said he had a conversation with “FM @JZarif (Mohammad Javad Zarif) of Iran”. He said he had “noted that developments have taken a very serious turn” and “India remains deeply concerned about the levels of tension”. The two countries would remain in touch, Jaishankar said.
In another tweet a few hours later, Jaishankar said “had a telephonic discussion with Secretary of State @SecPompeo on the evolving situation in the Gulf region”. Jaishankar added that he “highlighted India’s stakes and concerns” in his discussion with the US official.
Had a telephonic discussion with Secretary of State @SecPompeo on the evolving situation in the Gulf region. Highlighted India’s stakes and concerns.
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) January 5, 2020
Later, Pompeo tweeted about his conversation with Jaishankar, saying, “@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.”
.@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
US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Pompeo and Jaishankar had discussed “Iran’s continued provocations and threats to the region”.
Jaishankar also spoke to his counterparts in Oman and the UAE on Sunday regarding the situation in the region.
This was the first official statement by India that it was in contact with either Iran or the US over Soleimani’s assassination, which has spiked tensions in the Middle East and raised concerns across the globe. Earlier, on Friday, it had expressed concern at the rising tension and said the situation should not escalate further.
India is walking the diplomatic tightrope since it has close ties with both Tehran and Washington DC. Though the sanctions on Iran have impacted India’s economic ties with the country, the latter has been the largest exporter to India of crude oil for a long time. India is also developing a port in Iran.
Last month, Jaishankar was in Iran on a two-day visit. It was just three days after his trip to the US along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
After Soleimani’s killing, the US said it had approached various countries to update them. On Saturday, Pompeo had tweeted a list of the countries he had reached out to, including Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He said he had spoken to Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on “the defensive action to kill Qassem Soleimani” and said that “Iran regime’s actions in the region are destabilizing and our resolve in protecting American interests, personnel, facilities, and partners will not waver”.
He had tweeted about a similar conversation with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, saying the step was taken “to protect American lives at stake”.
The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary with the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice Wells, tweeted: “To strengthen mil2mil cooperation on shared priorities & advance US national security, @POTUS authorized the resumption of International Military Education and Training #IMET for Pakistan. The overall security assistance suspension for Pakistan remains in effect.”
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