A woman brings flowers to the Iranian embassy to pay tribute to Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other victims of a recent helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near Iran’s border with Azerbaijan, in Moscow, Russia on May 20. — Reuters

‘Esteemed statesmen’: World mourns loss of Iran president, FM in ‘tragic’ air crash

President Zardari mourns "tragic death" of Pakistan's "great friend" Raisi as Middle East expresses solidarity with Iran in "difficult time".
Published May 20, 2024

As Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, along with Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, were on Monday confirmed to be dead after their helicopter crashed last night, condolences began pouring in from across the world.

The charred wreckage of the helicopter, carrying a total of nine people as per Iranian media, was found earlier today after an overnight search in blizzard conditions in mountainous terrain near Iran’s Azerbaijan border.

The crash comes at a time of growing dissent within Iran over an array of political, social and economic crises. Iran’s clerical rulers face international pressure over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme and its deepening military ties with Russia during the war in Ukraine.

Since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct 7, provoking Israel’s assault on Gaza that has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, conflagrations involving Iran-aligned groups have erupted throughout the Middle East.

Here is how countries across the world — with the Middle East predominant — reacted to the confirmation of the Iranian top leaders’ deaths.

Pakistan, South Asia

President Asif Ali Zardari “expressed profound shock and sorrow over the tragic death” of his Iranian counterpart.

In a statement issued by the president’s office, Zardari said: “Today, Pakistan mourns the loss of a great friend. Just last month, we had the honour of hosting him in Pakistan. During our discussions, I found him very keen on strengthening our bilateral relations.”

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, extending his deepest condolences and sympathies to the Iranian nation, said Pakistan would observe a day of mourning and the flag would fly at half-mast.

Recalling Raisi’s and the foreign minister’s “historic visit” to the country last month, he said: “They were good friends of Pakistan.”

Deputy PM Ishaq Dar — also the foreign minister — said he was “truly aggrieved” about Raisi’s death and “deeply saddened to know about the martyrdom of my friend and brother” FM Amirabdollahian.

In a statement, the Foreign Office (FO) said the government and the Pakistani people were “deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic news of the martyrdom” of Raisi and FM Amirabdollahian, calling them “esteemed leaders and statesmen”.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic demise” of Raisi.

“His contribution to strengthening India-Iran bilateral relationship will always be remembered. My heartfelt condolences to his family and the people of Iran. India stands with Iran in this time of sorrow,” he said in a post on X.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe also joined in offering condolences.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of President Raisi and his entourage,” he said in a post on X.

The Gulf

The oil-rich United Arab Emirates, which has mended ties with Tehran after years of rift, “stands in solidarity with Iran at this difficult time”, said Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the Iranian government and people over the passing of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and those accompanying them following a tragic accident,” Sheikh Mohammed posted on X.

UAE PM Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “Our hearts are with you in this difficult time. Our prayers are that God will cover them with His vast mercy and dwell them in His spacious Paradise.”

In a statement on X, Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, called the news “painful”, expressing his “sincere condolences to the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, offered their condolences on Raisi’s death, said a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have long had strained ties with Iran because of its nuclear program and support for armed groups across the region, but they have mended relations in recent times.

In a dramatic shift, China brokered an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia in March 2023 to restore diplomatic ties after a seven-year rupture. In June, Amir-Abdollahian visited the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman as part of a regional tour aimed at consolidating Tehran’s Gulf ties.

Middle East

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit, in a statement, said, “We pray to God to shower them with mercy and forgiveness and to inspire their families with patience and solace.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi also extended his condolences, praying for the deceased and their families.

In a statement, Sisi expressed the solidarity of Egypt with the “Iranian leadership and people in this terrible incident”.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said, “As a colleague who personally witnessed his efforts for the peace of the Iranian people and our region during his time in power, I remember Mr Raisi with respect and gratitude.”

“As Turkiye, we will stand by our neighbour Iran in these difficult and sad times, as we have done many times,” the president said in a post on X.

Turkiye was “deeply saddened” by Raisi’s death and shared the “pain of the friendly and brotherly Iranian people”, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said.

Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani extended “heartfelt condolences and sympathies” to Iran, its supreme leader Ali Khamenei, and its people. “We express our solidarity with the brotherly Iranian people and the officials of the Islamic Republic during this painful tragedy.”

Lebanon and Syria announced three days of national mourning for the Iranian president and foreign minister.

“I can’t tell you how sorry I am about this incident that happened. Especially that the foreign minister had become a friend,” Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib told reporters.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad expressed solidarity with close ally Tehran, which has backed him during years of war.

Assad “affirmed Syria’s solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Iran and with the families of the late deceased and his comrades”, the Syrian presidency said in a statement, adding: “We worked with the late President to ensure that strategic relations between Syria and Iran flourish always.”

Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas also extended “sincere condolences and sympathy to the brotherly Iranian people”, affirming the solidarity of the State of Palestine and its people with the “Iranian leadership and people in this great affliction”.

Jordan’s King Abdullah offered his “deepest condolences to the brothers, leadership, government and people” of Iran. “We stand in solidarity with our brothers in Iran in this difficult circumstance,” he said in a post on X.

Hamas mourned in a statement an “honourable supporter” of the Palestinian group, saying it appreciated Raisi’s “support for the Palestinian resistance, and tireless efforts in solidarity” with Palestinians since the start of Israel’s offensive on Gaza.

Hamas said it appreciated Raisi and Amirabdollahian for their “intense political and diplomatic efforts to stop the Zionist (Israeli) aggression against our Palestinian people”.

On April 13, Iran launched more than 300 missiles and drones in Tehran’s first-ever direct attack on Israeli territory. That attack was itself in retaliation for an air strike — widely blamed on Israel — that levelled the Iranian consulate in Damascus and killed seven Revolutionary Guards on April 1.

Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, head of Yemen’s Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said on X: “The Iranian people will remain adhering to the loyal leaders of their people, by God’s will.”

Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, allegedly backed by Iran, praised the “struggle of the martyrs in defending the causes of the nation and their service to Iran”.

It prayed that may God bless them with His mercy, protect Khamenei, and grant Iran the ability to overcome the ordeal with patience and determination.


Russian President Vladimir Putin called his Iranian counterpart “an outstanding politician whose entire life was devoted to serving the Motherland”.

“As a true friend of Russia, he made an invaluable personal contribution to the development of good neighbourly relations between our countries and made great efforts to bring them to the level of strategic partnership.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Iranian president and his foreign minister had been “true friends” of Moscow.

“In Russia, President Raisi and Foreign Minister [Hossein] Amir-Abdollahian, were seen as true and reliable friends of our country,” Lavrov said, describing them as “patriots… who firmly defended the interests of their State and gave their lives in selfless service to the Motherland”.


European Council President Charles Michel said the European Union expressed its “sincere condolences for the death of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Abdollahian, as well as other members of their delegation and crew in a helicopter accident”.

“Our thoughts go to the families,” he said in a post on X.

Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni said, “I see in these hours that the Iranian authorities are crediting the thesis of the accident and not conspiracy theories.

“I do not see any changes in the internal order in Iran, we are in constant contact with our European and G7 allies because we are talking about an incident that is part of a particularly complex regional framework,” she said while speaking on Channel 5 television.

“I hope that the future Iranian leadership wants to commit itself to the stabilisation and pacification of the region.”

China, Malaysia, Japan

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson said President Xi Jinping had sent a direct message Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber.

Xi said President Raisi made important contributions towards Iran’s security and stability, and towards “developing the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Iran”.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said he was “deeply saddened” by the death of Raisi and other officials in a helicopter crash, noting their shared commitment to strengthening ties.

“We committed ourselves to bolstering Malaysia-Iran relations, working together for the betterment of our peoples and the Muslim world. Our pledge will be fulfilled,” he said in a statement on social media.

Last week, a senior US Treasury official told reporters that Iran relied on Malaysian service providers to get around international sanctions and sell its oil in the region. Malaysia has denied the allegations. Anwar previously defended Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel in April as “legitimate”.

Japanese government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi said his country expressed its “deepest condolences” to Iran over the deaths of Raisi and Amirabdollahian.


South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, who recently invited Iran to join the BRICS group, expressed deep regret over Raisi’s death, calling it “an extraordinary, unthinkable tragedy”.

“This is an extraordinary, unthinkable tragedy that has claimed a remarkable leader of a nation with whom South Africa enjoys strong bilateral relations,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa visited Iran as deputy president in 2015 and in 2023 welcomed Raisi to a summit of the BRICS group in Johannesburg, where Tehran was formally invited to join.

Iran became a full member of the intergovernmental forum in January, along with Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia and the UAE.

Sudan’s Sovereign Council head Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan extended his “sincere condolences and sympathy to the friendly Iranian people” and expressed the Sudanese government and its people’s solidarity with the Iranian leadership and public.


Haitham Al Ghais, the secretary general of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), extended his sympathies in “these difficult times”.

Afghanistan’s acting prime minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund said his country shared Iran’s grief and stood alongside its people.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on X: “Deeply saddened to have to say goodbye to an exemplary person, an extraordinary leader of the world as our brother.”

“Ebrahim is, and will always be, an excellent human being, defender of the sovereignty of his people and unconditional friend of our country,” he said.

“From Bolivarian lands, we express our deepest condolences to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and wish for divine consolation for such a sensitive loss.”

Header image: A woman brings flowers to the Iranian embassy to pay tribute to Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other victims of a recent helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near Iran’s border with Azerbaijan, in Moscow, Russia on May 20. — Reuters