India in close relationship with Israel, can help address tension: Iranian ambassador Iraj Elahi | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

India in close relationship with Israel, can help address tension: Iranian ambassador Iraj Elahi

Apr 20, 2024 07:18 AM IST

Iranian ambassador Iraj Elahi sought to play down reports of an Israeli drone strike, saying there was “no military operation in Isfahan and other cities

NEW DELHI: India can help address the tensions in West Asia in view of its relations with Iran and Israel and take on an active role in “preventing Israeli aggression”, Iranian ambassador Iraj Elahi said on Friday against the backdrop of further escalation in the region. Amid reports of an Israeli drone strike within Iran, Elahi sought to play down the matter and said in an interview with HT that there was “no military operation in Isfahan and other cities”.

Iranian ambassador Iraj Elahi said Iran has never sought to spread war and harm civilians (X/FieoHq)
Iranian ambassador Iraj Elahi said Iran has never sought to spread war and harm civilians (X/FieoHq)

There are reports of Israeli strikes on Isfahan and Tabriz. How would you describe the current situation and will Iran respond to these Israeli actions?

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There was no military operation in Isfahan and other cities. This is just a media war. Israeli authorities are trying to compensate [for] the strike of Iran by [such] shows.

What was the aim of Iran’s strikes with drones and missiles on Israel on April 13? Was the Indian side informed beforehand by Iran about this operation?

The proportionate military action of the Islamic Republic of Iran in targeting some military centres in occupied Palestine within the framework and based on the inherent right of self-defence according to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and in response to an armed attack of the Zionist regime has taken place. The Zionist regime targeted the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a diplomatic place with immunity based on international rules and regulations and martyred senior Iranian military advisors in Syria who were invited by the Syrian government to help this country to fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups. Before carrying out the attack, we had informed the neighbouring countries that were in the path of the missiles because of maintaining the safety of passenger planes. After the operation, the minister of foreign affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran [Hossein Amir-Abdollahian] had a telephone conversation with Mr Jaishankar, the minister of foreign affairs of India, and informed him about the details of the operation.

India has expressed concern about the situation in contacts with both Iran and Israel, especially given the presence of nine million Indians in West Asia. How do you view the world community’s concerns about a wider war in West Asia?

The Islamic Republic of Iran has never sought to spread war and harm civilians. The safety of civilians in the region is our priority. The security of people is important, and it doesn’t matter if they are Indian or Iranian or Palestinian or any other nationality. Meanwhile, the Israeli regime has killed more than 35,000 Palestinian civilians, many of whom were women and children, in the past seven months. In our operation, we never sought to harm people and only targeted military bases. We believe that Israel is the main cause of instability of the region. This regime wants to expand the war.

What role does Iran see India playing in the current situation and can India help in any form of mediation?

We have good relations with India and, of course, India has a close relationship with the Israeli regime. India can play an active role in preventing Israeli aggression. Israel has committed all kinds of crimes against the people of Gaza in the past seven months and has killed more than 35,000 innocent people in Gaza. Is it right to remain silent in the face of such a crime?

What is the way forward in the Israel-Hamas conflict?

Hamas is part of Palestine. The history of the conflict between Hamas and Israel did not begin on October 7, 2023. For 70 years, Palestinians have been seeking their legal rights, which are intrinsically tied to their identity, ancestral land, history, language and culture. Palestine has been occupied for 70 years, and a counterfeit regime has been established there that disregards any peace treaty, UN resolution or humanitarian principle. The only solution to the Palestinian issue is to refer to the referendum and ask the opinion of the original inhabitants of this land, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish. They should determine the type of government and how their country should be.

How do you view the current state of India-Iran relations? Will there be resumption of energy supplies?

The relations between Iran and India are in a good condition and we are ready to develop these relations in all fields, including energy.

Has trade in national currencies got underway? How are new connectivity initiatives between India and Iran progressing such as the use of Chabahar port by Central Asian countries?

Exchange with national currencies is an issue that we are working on seriously. The development of Chabahar port is one of the most important fields of cooperation between Iran and India. Due to its strategic location, Chabahar port can be an important bridge between India and Central Asian countries.

India has had to take steps to protect Indian sailors on merchant vessels from attacks by Houthis. Currently, 16 Indian seafarers are in Iran after their ship was seized by the IRGC. When are they expected to return?

They are not detained. They are free and can return to India whenever they want. They are currently under the command of the ship’s captain.

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