Jaishankar in Iran amid crisis, may have to do a tightrope walk

1 month ago 26
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Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif meets with External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, in Tehran on Wednesday. (ANI Photo)

NEW DELHI: Foreign minister S Jaishankar arrived in Iran on Thursday, to represent India at president-elect Ebrahim Raisi's inauguration, in the middle of a potentially explosive diplomatic situation.
After the drone attack last Thursday, that killed two persons - a British and a Romanian - on an Israeli company-owned ship MV Mercer Street off the coast of Oman, Iran is once again amid western crossfire at a time when it seemed that the Biden administration might restart talks on reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the Iran nuclear deal.
As their first step on international condemnation of Iran, western countries are pushing for a discussion in the UN Security Council. The UK has already scheduled a discussion on Saturday. Israel, under its new Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, has promised to take unilateral action against Iran. "We know how to send a message to Iran in our own way," Bennett warned.
Iran is keen on avoiding any such discussion. India holds the rotating presidency of the UNSC in August, so is understandably having to balance both ends.
Jaishankar's presence in Tehran would be a good opportunity for Iran for lobbying, and therefore providing an opportunity for some delicate diplomacy, during a visit which was meant to be mainly protocol-oriented.
India has already scheduled an urgent discussion on Afghanistan on Saturday, two days after the country's foreign minister called Jaishankar to request for one, given the deteriorating security situation in that country.
On Thursday, answering questions at his weekly briefing, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "The issue of Afghanistan will be deliberated tomorrow (Friday). You would have seen the press statement of August 3 on the escalating violence in Afghanistan, which echoes much of what we have been saying. During tomorrow's debate, we will share our vision and perspectives on Afghanistan."
Tehran on Monday warned the UK, the US and Israel that any actions in response to the drone attack on the tanker "will be met with a severe and decisive answer".
Meanwhile, the UK, Romania and US along with Israel have all publicly pinned blame on Iran. In his statement, UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the attack was done by drones, calling it "deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law".
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was "confident that Iran conducted this", and that an "appropriate response" would follow.

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