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US national security adviser Jake Sullivan postpones India visit over Middle East tensions

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan postpones India visit over Middle East tensions

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan has postponed his India visit for a second time this year due to the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.

The senior official was scheduled to hold wide-ranging talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval this week on the progress of the implementation of the US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET).

His initial visit to New Delhi was scheduled for February following a meeting with Mr Doval last year. However, the February visit was pushed to April and now remains postponed indefinitely.

The ongoing conflict in the Middle East escalated last weekend after Iran launched a missile attack on Israel in retaliation against an Israeli airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus on 1 April.

While the attack caused no deaths and little damage, it has increased concerns of a wider conflict in the region rooted in Israel’s six-month-long war in Gaza.

US president Joe Biden told Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that America, which helped Israel blunt the Iranian attack, would not participate in an Israeli counter-strike.

Since then, American officials, including US defence secretary Lloyd Austin, have reached out to their counterparts in the Middle East, urging for stability in the region.

David Cameron says Iran suffered ‘double defeat’ in failed attack

“Due to ongoing events in the Middle East, NSA Sullivan has postponed his trip to India this week,” a US embassy spokesperson told PTI news agency.

“NSA Sullivan looks forward to holding the iCET annual review at the next earliest possible date and remains personally committed to advancing our deeply consequential and multifaceted partnership with India,” he said, adding that Mr Biden looks forward to the next meeting of Quad leaders.

India was supposed to host the Quad leaders’ summit this January, which could not take place due to Mr Biden’s inability to travel.

Meanwhile, Mr Netanyahu on Monday summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24 hours to weigh a response to Iran’s attack as his military chief vowed a response.

Military chief of staff Herzi Halevi said “this launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles and drones into Israeli territory will be met with a response” but gave no details.

Iranian deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani told state TV on Monday night that Tehran’s response to any Israeli retaliation would come in “a matter of seconds, as Iran will not wait for another 12 days to respond”.

US treasury secretary Janet Yellen is reportedly preparing fresh sanctions on Iran.

“Treasury will not hesitate to work with our allies to use our sanctions authority to continue disrupting the Iranian regime’s malign and destabilizing activity,” Ms Yellen is prepared to say Tuesday, Axios reported.

“The attack by Iran and its proxies underscores the importance of treasury’s work to use our economic tools to counter Iran’s malign activity,” she will further say.

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