On Sunday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in the wake of the killing of Iran’s top military commander General Qassem Soleimani. Contending that the situation had taken a “serious turn”, Jaishankar conveyed India’s deep concern about the tension in West Asia. He stated that both of them agreed to remain in touch.
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.— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) January 5, 2020
Immediately after General Soleimani’s killing, the Ministry of External Affairs had issued a statement. It emphasised that peace and stability were of utmost importance for India. Moreover, it reiterated that India advocated restraint.
The MEA stated, "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."
While Iran and the US have been at loggerheads for quite sometime, their relationship took a worse turn after a US air raid killed General Soleimani, considered by many as the second most powerful figure in Iran. The Pentagon confirmed that the January 3 attack at the Baghdad International Airport was carried out at the direction of President Donald Trump. Along with General Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis- the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), an Iran-backed umbrella organization comprising several militias was also killed.
General Soleimani had acquired a larger than life image due to his role in spreading Iranian influence in West Asia. On the other hand, the US accused the Quds Force of providing funding, training, weapons, and equipment to US-designated terrorist groups in West Asia including Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in Gaza. It alleged that Soleimani and the Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans.