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Hours after his meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in New Delhi Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister H Amirabdollahian said the two countries agree on the need to “respect divine religions”, “Islamic sanctities” and “avoid divisive statements.”
Iran was among the Islamic countries which condemned the remarks against the Prophet by the now-suspended and expelled BJP spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal.
In a Twitter post past midnight Wednesday, Amirabdollahian said: “Pleased to meet PM Modi, FM Jaishankar & other Indian officials to advance our bilateral strategic dialogue. Tehran & New Delhi agree on the need to respect divine religions & Islamic sanctities & to avoid divisive statements.” He said the two countries are “determined to bring relations to new heights”.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry, in a statement on the minister’s meeting with top Shia and Sunni scholars, said he “also talked about the insults against the holy Prophet of Islam and expressed deep regret about the upsetting incident.”
Condemning the statements, he said “India has been a land of compassion and tolerance and is always a refuge and a front for different viewpoints” and “such raucous clamour neither suits India nor is rooted in India, and surely followers of all religions in the Indian territory oppose such comments.” This, the statement said, “was a point conversed about clearly, and in different manners, by Indian officials during this visit.”
On Thursday, asked whether the issue of the remarks against the Prophet was discussed during the Iranian minister’s talks, Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said, “My understanding is that this issue was not raised during that conversation” with Jaishankar.
On India’s response to the criticism from over a dozen countries, Bagchi said, “We have made it pretty clear that the tweets and comments do not reflect the views of the government.”
“This has been conveyed to our interlocutors as also the fact that action has been taken by the concerned quarters against those who made the comments and tweets. I really do not have anything additional to say on this,” he said.
Asked about the claim in an Iranian readout which said that after the Iranian Foreign Minister raised the issue with NSA Doval, the latter had said offenders would be dealt with in such a way that others would learn a lesson, Bagchi said: “My understanding is that what you are referring to in a readout has been pulled down.”
He did not comment when asked why the Indian embassy in Qatar had attributed the comments to “fringe elements” initially. “Our ambassadors regularly brief their interlocutors on issues and concerns of the day. They are also in regular touch with the headquarters,” Bagchi said.
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