Iran wants India to join in fight against ISIS

Iran wants India to join it in recreating a new coalition to fight ISIS

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses the Raisina Dialogue 2020, in New Delhi. (PTI photo)

Iran on Wednesday said that the United States had in fact handed the Islamic State terrorists on a platter “a major victory” by “assassinating” West Asian nation's top military leader Lieutenant General Qaseem Soleimani on January 3.

Tehran also subtly nudged New Delhi to join it in recreating a new coalition to fight the menace of Islamic State, as the dreaded terrorist organisation was now spreading its tentacles in Afghanistan – close to both Iran and India.

Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said in New Delhi that killing of Lt. Gen. Soleimani by the United States had triggered protests not only in the Islamic Republic in the Persian Gulf but also in other places, including in 430 cities across India.

He said that only US President Donald Trump, his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the Islamic State were celebrating the death of Lt. Gen. Soleimani.

“General Soleimani was the single most effective force against (the) Daesh (Islamic State or IS),” Zarif said at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi. “The war against Daesh (ISIS) just suffered a major setback (with the killing of Lt. Gen. Soleimani). (The) Daesh just won a major victory.”

“Who is celebrating the death of Gen Soleimani? It is Trump, Pompeo at the ISIS. Are they strange bedfellows?” wondered Zarif.

The Raisina Dialogue – held annually by the Government of India in association with the Owas the first opportunity for Iranian Foreign Minister to directly address the world community on a foreign land since tension between Tehran and Washington D.C. escalated after the US killed Lt Gen Soleimani in a drone attack near the international airport at Baghdad – the capital of Iraq – on January 3. Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) retaliated on January 8 – firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles targeting the US airbase at Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq.

“Daesh is closer to you (India) and us (Iran) more than we wish. They want to occupy the same territory where Taliban started (in Afghanistan). We need to create a new coalition to fight them," Iranian Foreign Minister said. He also criticized the US for initiating talks with Taliban in Afghanistan. He said that the US should join the proposed coalition to show that it sincerely wanted to see the Islamic State defeated.

Zarif, who arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He earlier had a meeting with Modi's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

Modi conveyed to Zarif that India remained committed to developing its strong and friendly relations with Iran. Zarif shared with Prime Minister his perspectives on the “recent developments” in the region, including the killing of Lt Gen Soleimani and the escalation of tension between Iran and US.

Prime Minister told Iranian Foreign Minister that India had a “strong interest in peace, security and stability in the region”.

India already had to stop importing crude oil from Iran after the US re-imposed sanctions on the West Asian republic. New Delhi is now worried as tankers carrying oil from Iraq and Saudi Arabia to India pass through Strait of Hormuz, which might turn into a conflict zone in case of further escalation in US-Iran tension. New Delhi is also worried about the fate, safety and security of 85 lakh Indian expats in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE and other nations in the Gulf.

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