NEW DELHI (Dispatches) – Indians have mourned the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani in 430 cities across the country, Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif said here on Wednesday.
"In 430 Indian cities there were demonstrations against the assassination of Gen Soleimani. Do we have proxies in India?” quipped Zarif while addressing India’s premier annual foreign policy event — Raisina Dialogue.
Zarif focused on the recent assassination of the Middle East’s most prominent anti-terror commander, saying U.S. President Donald Trump had authorized it seven months ago.
"Two persons are celebrating the death of General Soleimani. Trump, Pompeo and Daesh. You call them strange bedfellows? They are not.”
Zarif said, "Soleimani was single biggest threat to ISIS; it is now celebrating his killing.”
"I think we need to recreate the coalition against Daesh, because the current coalition against it used the basis of the coalition to kill the most effective anti-Daesh general. We need a new coalition,” he added.
The foreign minister also touched on the accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane outside Tehran, saying it "happened because there was a crisis”.
"People made unforgivable mistakes. We have to ensure these crises are prevented,” he said.
Zarif was to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also travel to Mumbai for business-related meetings.
Commenting on the current tensions in the Middle East, Zarif said Iran has incurred hundreds of billions of dollars in damages.
When asked if there was a diplomatic solution to the current situation, Zarif said, "Iran is interested in diplomacy, not interested in negotiating with U.S.” He exhorted Europe not to be bullied by the United States.
Zarif said an existing nuclear deal the country struck with world powers was not dead and that he was
unsure if any new pact agreed by U.S. President Donald Trump would last.
"The United States didn’t implement (the existing deal’s) ...commitments, now it has withdrawn... I had a U.S. deal and the U.S. broke it. If I have a Trump deal, how long will it last?” he said.
Zarif said Iran would respond to a letter sent by the three European countries and said the future of the pact, which was "not dead”, rested on Europe.