Jaishankar discusses tense situation in Gulf with Pompeo, Zarif; voices India’s concerns


PTI, Jan 6, 2020, 10:01 AM IST

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday held a telephonic conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, voicing India’s concerns over the escalating tensions in the Gulf region after the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.

Jaishankar also separately spoke with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf Alawi and his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the tense situation in the region.

The External Affairs Minister’s telephonic conversations came as concerns mounted across the globe over fast-deteriorating diplomatic ties between the US and Iran, and the spiralling tensions in the Gulf after Soleimani, the head of Iran”s elite al-Quds force and architect of its regional security apparatus, was killed when a US drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the Baghdad International Airport.

Noting that developments have taken a “very serious turn”, Jaishankar said he had a conversation with Zarif and asserted that India remains deeply concerned about the levels of tension in the region.

“Just concluded a conversation with 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,” the External Affairs Minister tweeted after his discussion with Zarif.

After his discussion with Pompeo, Jaishankar tweeted, “Had a telephonic discussion with Secretary of State @SecPompeo on the evolving situation in the Gulf region. Highlighted India’s stakes and concerns.”.

Defending the killing of the Iranian commander, President Donald Trump on Friday had said “reign of terror is over” and claimed Qassem Soleimani had contributed to “terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London.”

“A warm conversation with FM @ABZayed of UAE. Exchanged views on recent developments in the region,” Jaishankar tweeted after his conversation with his UAE counterpart.

“Discussed with FM Yusuf Alawi of Oman the tense situation in the region. Reaffirmed our shared interest in the stability and security of the Gulf. Appreciated his perspectives on the current situation,” he said in another tweet.

Trump has warned Iran that the US has identified 52 possible targets in the country and will hit it harder than ever before if Tehran, which has vowed “severe revenge”, carries out any attack against America to avenge the killing of Soleimani.

Maj Gen Soleimani, 62, the head of Iran”s elite al-Quds force and architect of its regional security apparatus was killed when a US drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the Baghdad International Airport early on Friday. The strike also killed the deputy chief of Iraq”s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force.

Soleimani’s killing was the most dramatic escalation yet in spiralling tensions between Iran and the US.

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