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Friday, October 30, 2020

Forty Years Ago, October 5, 1980: PM’s Letters

Ever since the conflict broke out between Iran and Iraq 10 days ago, the Indian government has observed strict neutrality.

By: Editorial | October 5, 2020 2:34:10 am
Forty Years Ago, October 5, 1980: PM’s LettersThe Express front page, October 5, 1980.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, is understood to have written separate letters to Iraqi President Saddam Hussain and Iran’s President Bani Sadr making an impassioned plea for a peaceful resolution of the problems between the two countries. Available information suggests that Mrs Gandhi’s letters are identical in content. Ever since the conflict broke out between Iran and Iraq 10 days ago, the Indian government has observed strict neutrality. This is mainly because India enjoys a friendship with both Iran and Iraq. Mrs Gandhi in her letters to Hussain and Bani Sadr is understood to have underscored the fact that India enjoys friendly ties with both countries and as such, it is a matter of concern for her to see that two of its good friends are engaged in bitter fighting over matters that can be sorted out amicably.

No Ceasefire

Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini rejected Iraqi ceasefire offers and threatened Iraq’s Arabs supporters with retaliation as the undeclared Iraqi-Iranian war continued into its 13th day. “The Iranian nation and armed forces will revenge the crimes of the bloodthirsty Baath Party (of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein) and continue their battle until final victory,” radio Teheran monitored in London quoted Khomeini. as saying. The message was addressed to the “Iraqi nation and Muslim countries, especially sheikhdoms, in the region”.

Indira’s Caution

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi cautioned against the country’s twin menaces — subversion from outside and politics of violence within. Addressing a mammoth public meeting at Sujapur, 12 km from Malda, Mrs Gandhi said both these threats could be met through a determined united national approach by patriotic-minded people rising above petty political considerations.

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