India talks to key players involved in the Gulf crisis

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar during a press conference on 100 days of Government, in New Delhi on Sep 17, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS) External Affairs minister S. Jaishankar on Sunday spoke to the US Secretary of State and the Foreign Ministers of Iran, UAE and Oman, expressing concerns about the ongoing crisis and sharing India’s interest in the security and stability of the Gulf.

The region has been tense since the US killed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, Major Gen Qasem Soleimani and other military officials in an air strike in Baghdad on Thursday. Iran has called it a state terror act and threatened to retaliate.A

Interestingly, the US has asked around a dozen countries to negotiate peace with Iran and deescalate the tensions. It is not clear whether India is one among the mediators even as the External Affairs Minister’s tweets suggested that he was talking to all the key players involved in the conflict.

In a series of tweets, Jaishankar said that while speaking to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “on the evolving situation in the Gulf region” he highlighted India’s stakes and concerns.

Secretary Pompeo, in a tweet, acknowledged the phone conversation between him and Jaishankar but pointedly blamed Iran. “Dr 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,” he tweeted hinting that the US was taking into consideration India’s stakes.

In his conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, Jaishankar “noted that the developments have taken a very serious done.” India, he said, remains deeply concerned about the levels of tension in the region and is going to stay in touch with Iran.

Separately, he had a “warm conversation” with the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates on the developments in the region. He “affirmed India’s shared interest in the stability and security of the Gulf” during his telephonic exchange with the Foreign Minister of Oman about the tense situation. He appreciated his perspectives on the current situation, Jaishankar tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Embassy of Iran in New Delhi in a statement expressed gratitude to India for expressing sympathy and solidarity with Iran. While condemned the US attack, the embassy said: “Despite its strategic restraint which stems from the Irani and national and religious values and principles,” Iran considered “safeguarding its national and security interest its legitimate right and on the basis of its inevitable right to self defence it shall take appropriate retaliatory action in the suitable time and place.”

To ensure global peace and stability, the embassy said, “all the governments of the region and the world are expected to condemn this terrorist act in the strongest possible terms.”

On Sunday, however, the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia issued a security alert about heightened risk of missile and rocket attacks especially for those living and working near military bases and oil and gas facilities and other critical civilian infrastructure.

Incidentally, the parliament in Iraq voted on a resolution to terminate security agreement with the US and sought withdrawal of the US troops from the war-torn country.

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