New Delhi: After the assassination of a top Iranian general by the United States in Iraqi capital Baghdad on Friday, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar on Sunday spoke to both Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and “noted that developments have taken a very serious turn”, adding that “India remains deeply concerned about the levels of tension”.
In the conversation with Mr Pompeo, Mr Jaishankar highlighted India’s stakes and concerns in the region amid the spiralling US-Iran tensions.
Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed in Baghdad early on Friday reportedly in a drone strike by an American drone. The US had accused Gen. Soleimani of plotting terror attacks worldwide.
The developments have alarmed India due to the possible fallout on its strategic port development project at Chabahar in Iran, which provides sea-land connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.
“Just concluded a conversation with (Foreign Minister) 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,” Mr Jaishankar tweeted on Sunday evening.
He later tweeted: “Had a telephonic discussion with Secretary of State @SecPompeo on the evolving situation in the Gulf region. Highlighted India’s stakes and concerns.”
Observers note that the escalation in tensions between Iran and the United States may further scare Indian private companies, who are part of the Chabahar port project due to a possible adverse impact on their investments and any possible economic punitive steps that the United States may take in the coming days on foreign companies investing in Iran. India is in a tight spot now as it has excellent relations with both Iran and the United States.
Mr Jaishankar had last month visited Tehran for the 19th session of the India-Iran Joint Commission there on December 22. The two sides had “expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved” in operationalisation of Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar, and had “recognised that it has a potential to act as a gateway between the Indian subcontinent, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe”. Both nations had also “welcomed the utilisation of the port for exports from Afghanistan and discussed ways to promote it”.
India had on Friday said the “increase in tension has alarmed the world”, and called for de-escalation and restraint. New Delhi added that “peace, stability and security in this region is of utmost importance to India”.
In a statement from New Delhi on Friday, the external affairs ministry had said: “We have noted that a senior Iranian leader has been killed by the US. The increase in tension has alarmed the world. Peace, stability and security in this region is of utmost importance to India. It is vital that the situation does not escalate further. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so.”