New Delhi: In the middle of a massive diplomatic row over comments on Prophet Muhammad by members of the ruling BJP, Iran appears to have changed its version of its Foreign Minister’s meeting today with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in Delhi by pulling down an earlier press statement.
The earlier Iranian statement claimed that its Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian had been told by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval that those who made the controversial remarks against the Prophet “would be taught a lesson”. This line no longer finds mention on the Iranian foreign ministry website.
Iranian Foreign Minister Abdollahian is the first big visitor from Iran days after the country joined Kuwait, Qatar and other Gulf nations in condemning the Prophet comments.
“Pleased to meet PM Modi, FM Jaishankar and 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. determined to bring relations to new heights,” the minister tweeted after the meeting last night.
The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said that the Prophet remarks was never raised in discussions with Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. “We have made it pretty clear the tweets and comments do not convey 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,” the official said.
News agency PTI had quoted the earlier Iranian readout as saying Mr Abdollahian raised the issue of the “negative atmosphere” triggered by “disrespectful” comments on the Prophet and that the Indian side reiterated the Indian government’s respect for the founder of Islam.
The readout, according to PTI, said the Iranian foreign minister also referred to the historical friendship between the followers of various religions in the country.
“Abdollahian hailed the Indian people and government for their respect for the divine faiths, especially the Prophet Mohammad and also for the religious tolerance, historical coexistence and friendship among followers of various religions in the country,” the readout said.
The Iranian foreign minister said, “Muslims are satisfied with the stance of Indian officials in dealing with the culprits.”
The BJP on Sunday suspended Nupur Sharma, its national spokesperson, and expelled the party’s Delhi unit media head Naveen Jindal, over their comments on the Prophet.
Several countries, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indonesia, Jordan, Bahrain, Maldives, Malaysia, Oman, Iraq and Libya, denounced the comments and many summoned Indian envoys to express their condemnation.
Iran’s IRNA news agency quoted Mr Abdollahian as saying ahead of the talks that his trip to India is taking place in a situation in which a member of a party “insulted” Prophet Muhammad in an arbitrary act.
He said India has “constantly followed up peaceful coexistence and tried to live in peace and tranquillity” and noted that “Muslims cannot tolerate the sacrilege of the