‘Closely monitoring the situation in West Asia’: India on US-Iran standoff
India on Thursday said it is closely monitoring the situation in West Asia against the backdrop of the Iran-US standoff because peace and stability in the region is of “utmost importance” to its economic and security interests.
“We are very closely monitoring the situation which is developing rapidly. Peace, security and stability in the region is of utmost importance to us,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told a regular news briefing.
“We have important interests in the region and we would like the situation to de-escalate as quickly as possible,” he said in response to questions on the escalation in tensions following Wednesday’s Iranian missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing US personnel in the wake of the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in an American drone strike.
India has spoken to key stakeholders in the region, including Iran, the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Jordan as well as the US and “exchanged perspectives”, he said. These conversations are expected to continue.
“We have already conveyed the importance and priority that India attaches to peace and stability in the region,” Kumar said.
Asked about the possible need to evacuate the nearly 8 million expatriates in the region in the event of further hostilities, he said: “If we see there is a necessity for doing that, that will be done. We are committed to the safety and security of Indian diaspora all over the world.”
India has so far issued only a travel advisory for Iraq.
Asked about fresh US sanctions on Iran affecting the Chabahar port being developed under an agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan, Kumar said: “In the past, the US has shown understanding of the importance of the Chabahar project to us and for continued connectivity to Afghanistan. It is very important for providing economic assistance to Afghanistan and two-way traffic from the port has picked up.”