National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other dignitaries during a meeting, in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: Iran on Thursday pulled down its foreign ministry statement on the discussions -- relating to the recent controversy over the derogatory comments against the Prophet of Islam made earlier by two erstwhile BJP spokespersons -- during the meeting between its visiting foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval in New Delhi on Wednesday evening. This was announced by the external affairs ministry at its weekly briefing on Thursday evening. The Iranian statement had been quoted as saying that "NSA Ajit Doval, reaffirmed the Indian government and officials’ respect for the Prophet Muhammed, saying that offenders will be dealt with, at the government and related levels, in such a way that others will learn a lesson".
The Iranian action has triggered speculation that New Delhi could have been upset or uncomfortable over the discussions at a closed-meeting, including the purported response of the Indian NSA, being made public by the Iranian side so explicitly after the Iranian foreign minister had raised the issue at the meeting.
The controversy had created a furore in the Islamic world this week, with several Islamic nations including Iran summoning India’s ambassadors there and taking up the matter with New Delhi.
Asked about the Iranian statement at the MEA briefing on Thursday evening, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi declined to comment on the discussions between two "dignitaries" (Iran’s foreign minister and India’s NSA) but said the Iranian statement being referred to had been "pulled down". In response to a media query, the spokesperson said: "My understanding is that what you are referring to in a readout has been pulled down." Mr Bagchi however didn’t offer any possible reasons for the Iranian action. He also said there had been no talk about the controversy during the meeting between external affairs minister S. Jaishankar and the Iranian minister on Wednesday evening.
Asked about the controversy, the MEA spokesperson reiterated New Delhi’s view that the derogatory comments did not reflect the views of the Government of India and that action had been taken against those who had made them.