New Delhi: Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif will hold talks with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday in New Delhi to discuss developments after India slashed the import of oil from Iran. New Delhi is stopping import of Iranian oil completely to avoid US sanctions. The issue is expected to figure prominently in the talks, sources said.
But, New Delhi is worried over the impact this will have on the strategic partnership with Iran for development of the Chabahar port there that gives New Delhi crucial sea-land connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing Pakistan.
The Iranian Foreign Minister and Ms. Swaraj will also discuss the latest developments pertaining to the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which was inked in 2015 that had then paved the way for lifting of US sanctions on Iran.
The US — under then President Barack Obama — had pushed for the deal strongly four years ago. But with President Trump announcing the pullout of the US last year, the US has again turned on the heat on Iran. External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India was prepared to deal with the impact of the US decision.
In May last year, the US had brought back sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal which was struck in 2015.
The US had told India and other countries to cut oil imports from the Gulf nation to “zero” by November 4 or face sanctions. However, Washington had granted a six-month waiver from sanctions to eight countries, including India.
India, which is the second biggest purchaser of Iranian oil after China, had agreed to restrict its monthly purchase to 1.25 million tonne or 15 million tonne in a year (300,000 barrels per day), down from 22.6 million tonne (452,000 barrels per day) bought in the 2017-18 financial year.
India meets more than 80 per cent of its oil needs through imports. Iran is its third largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Ara-bia and meets about 10 per cent of its total needs.
Indo-Iran ties have been on a upswing in the last few years. Prime Minister Modi visited Tehran in May 2016 with an aim to craft a strategic relationship with Iran and expand India’s ties with West Asia.
During the visit, India and Iran signed nearly a dozen pacts, centrepiece of which was an agreement on development of Chabahar port. Later, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral pact providing for transport of goods among the three countries through the port.