New Delhi: India gave a guarded response to the China-brokered reconciliation agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, saying that New Delhi had always been in favour of “dialogue and diplomacy”.
Last week, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to end their seven years of estrangement by signing an agreement in Beijing to re-open embassies and missions over the next two months. The trilateral pact was announced after four days of talks in the Chinese capital.
In the first official response, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that it had “seen reports” about the agreement. “India has good relations with various countries in West Asia and we have an abiding interest in the region. India has always advocated dialogue and diplomacy to resolve differences,” he said at the weekly media briefing on Thursday, March 16.
The statement deliberately refrained from expressing approval of the agreement, opting instead for a more mundane phrase to acknowledge the developments.
China’s role in mediating between Iran and Saudi Arabia is widely seen as Beijing’s first concrete outcome of its foray into the intractable regional disputes of West Asia.
The White House had said that it “generally” welcomed any efforts to end the war in Yemen and de-escalate tensions in the region. “The Saudis did keep us informed about these talks that they were having, just as we keep them informed on our engagements, but we weren’t directly involved,” said the White House national security council spokesperson, John Kirby.
In the region, there were fulsome words of welcome for the agreement from Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, the Palestinian Authority, and Iraq.
In Israel, there has been much consternation and finger-pointing in the media, but no public statement so far. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had regarded the normalisation agreement with four Arab nations as one of his significant achievements in foreign policy, as it aimed to isolate Iran in the region. However, a deal had not yet been reached with Saudi Arabia.