NEW DELHI: Indian Foreign Minister on Sunday night reviewed situation with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in the aftermath of assassination of Iranian Gen Qasem Soleimani.

“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,” Jaishankar tweeted.

Meanwhile US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted, “@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.”

Zarif is scheduled to visit India for Raisina Dialogue beginning Jan 14.

New Delhi is closely monitoring fast-changing developments in the region where the country’s stakes have increased manifold in recent years, officials said.

“We have noted that a senior Iranian leader has been killed by the US,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement on Friday that called for restraint. “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,” it said.

One of the biggest challenges for India in case of an escalation would be safeguarding the welfare of Indian diaspora in the Gulf region. Memories of the 1990-91 Gulf War, when tens of thousands of Indians had to be evacuated from Kuwait and other places in the region, still haunt many people.

Later, New Delhi did conduct successful operations to evacuate Indians from Libya, Iraq and Yemen during conflicts. However, such operations remain a challenge given volatile situation in West Asia.

The economic impact also would be significant. Nearly $40 billion of the $70 billion remittances coming into the country from non-resident Indians are from Gulf alone and Indian business enterprises have established their chapters across the Gulf over the years, contributing to local as well as Indian economy.

India did not respond to regional conflicts involving Syria, Yemen and Qatar and this has helped Delhi to maintain its goodwill among all regional powers, an official said.

India has been expanding its partnership with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf states besides Israel and Iran.

Iran had last month hosted foreign minister S Jaishankar and deputy national security advisor Rajinder Khanna as the two countries look to expand security ties and connectivity links.

India-Iran-Oman trilateral, which can stabilise the Persian Gulf region in the long run, has been in the making. Iran is also considered key to safeguarding India’s interests in Afghanistan and acts a connectivity link to Eurasia. More Indian ports are now being connected to the strategically located Chabahar port.





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