| Welcome to Global Village Space

Friday, May 24, 2024

India raises ‘grave concerns’ with Iran over Red Sea attacks

New Delhi has called the Houthi attacks on merchant vessels a “matter of great concern” for the international community

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who was in Tehran for a two-day visit, has said that attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by Houthi rebels allegedly backed by Iran are a matter of “great concern” to the international community.

Speaking to the media after closed-door talks with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Jaishankar stated that the attacks on ships “in the vicinity of India” impact the nation’s energy and economic interests.

Read more: Pakistan says Iran violated airspace, killing two children

Jaishankar noted a “perceptible” increase in threats to maritime traffic in the Indian Ocean region, adding: “This fraught situation is not to the benefit of any party and this must be clearly recognized.” Around 80% of India’s trade in goods with Europe passes through the Red Sea.

The cost of Indian exports has more than doubled amid the tensions in the region, Reuters reported, citing industry officials. Indian exports worth at least $10 billion will be hit in the fiscal year to March 2024 due to rising shipping costs and delays in the delivery of orders, Arun Kumar Garodia, the chairman of the Engineering Export Promotion Council of India, told the news agency.

Jaishankar’s visit to Tehran comes amid heightened tensions in the Middle East, which have spread to the Red Sea and Arabian Sea where Houthi rebels have launched attacks on passing merchant ships.

Read more: Nobel laureate sent to additional prison term by Iran

The Houthis have vowed to continue targeting Israeli and US-linked ships “until the siege on Gaza” is lifted. In response, the US and UK launched over 70 airstrikes last week on Houthi targets in Yemen.

The Indian Navy has significantly increased its presence in the Arabian Sea in the wake of the attacks, deploying several warships to ward off potential threats to commercial vessels. In a landmark development allowing India more options to transport goods to Central Asia, Russia, and Europe, on Monday, New Delhi and Tehran signed an agreement to further develop the Chabahar Port on Iran’s southeastern coast.

The port will play a key role in the operations of the International North-South Transport Corridor connecting India with Russia and the CIS region via Iran – bypassing volatile parts of the Middle East.

New Delhi and Tehran also stressed the importance of preventing further escalations of violence in Gaza. Reiterating India’s “uncompromising position” against terrorism, the foreign minister said it is “imperative” to avoid the loss of civilian lives. Jaishankar also reiterated New Delhi’s support for a two-state solution to resolve the decades-old Israel-Palestine conflict.

As per the Iranian readout, Amir-Abdollahian informed Jaishankar that Yemeni leaders have said that as long as the “war and genocide” continue in Gaza, they will only stop ships that are sailing towards the “occupied territories” to deliver arms for the war. The Iranian diplomat also stressed that the White House should not link US national interests to the “occupying and apartheid regime,” in reference to Israel.

On Monday, Jaishankar also met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, conveying greetings from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressing condolences over the bombings in the Iranian city of Kerman earlier this year that killed nearly 100 people.

Hours later, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said it used ballistic missiles against an ISIS base in Syria and a stronghold of the Israeli spy service Mossad in Iraq on Monday in response to the bombings.