MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar speaking to reporters in New Delhi on Thursday.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar speaking to reporters in New Delhi on Thursday.

Closely monitoring situation in Gulf, hoping for quick de-escalation: India on US-Iran tensions

ANI | Updated: Jan 09, 2020 18:08 IST

New Delhi [India], Dec 9 (ANI): India on Thursday said it is closely monitoring the situation in the Gulf region in the wake of rising tension between the United States and Iran due to the killing of an Iranian general in Iraq and hoped for the situation to de-escalate as quickly as possible.
"We are closely monitoring the situation (in the region) which is developing rapidly. As we have articulated in the past, peace, security and stability in the region is of utmost importance to us. We have important interests in the region. We would like the situation to de-escalate as quickly as possible," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a weekly briefing here.
Early on Wednesday, Iran launched more than a dozen missiles on US targets in Iraq -- first at the Ain Al-Asad airbase in Anbar province and another one at Erbil, which falls in the Kurdistan region.
The strikes came hours after the funeral of senior Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, whose killing in a US air raid last week in Baghdad intensified tensions in the Gulf region.
Countries including the UK have condemned Iran's strikes and urged Tehran to pursue urgent de-escalation.
Meanwhile, Kumar confirmed that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will be coming to India for the next week's Raisina Dialogue and said that there is no change in the programme amid the prevailing situation in the Gulf region.
"We are talking to several stakeholders. The External Affairs Minister has spoken to players in the region. He has spoken to the foreign ministers of Iran, the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Jordan. He also held discussions with his counterpart from the US and exchanged perspectives on the situation," he said.
Asked whether Indians living in the region would be evacuated, the MEA spokesperson said that the process would be carried out if such a situation arises.
"If we see there is a necessity that will be done. We are committed to the safety and security of the Indian diaspora living all over the world and in the region. If the situation demand, an appropriate advisory will be issued and appropriate action will be taken. We have issued an advisory for Iraq following the developments there," Kumar remarked.
He said that India appreciates the stand by the US in exempting Chabahar Port from its sanctions imposed on Iran's economy.
"In the past, the US has shown an understanding of the importance of Chabahar project to us and for continued connectivity to Afghanistan. It is very much important in terms of providing economic assistance to Afghanistan. The two-way traffic between India and Chabahar Port has picked up in the last several months. We appreciate the stand shown by the US in exempting Chabahar Port from sanctions," he said.
The US has provided a "narrow exemption" to India from sanctions on Chabahar project in Iran as it plays a vital role in transporting India's humanitarian supplies to war-torn Afghanistan.
In 2018, Iran and India had signed an agreement worth USD 85 million to develop the Chabahar Port in south-eastern Iran. The lease agreement gives operational control to India of Shahid Beheshti Port (phase one of the Chabahar Port) and was signed in the presence of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
The Chabahar Port which provides an alternative route for trade between India and Afghanistan is located in Southeastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman. In 2017, India sent its first shipment of wheat to Afghanistan through the strategic Iranian port. (ANI)