New Delhi: Less than three weeks before the first wave of US sanctions against Iran kicks in, India on Wednesday made it clear that its bilateral relations with Tehran stand on their own and are not influenced by its ties with any third country.
The assertion was made in Lok Sabha by Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh while replying to a question on whether India will continue its economic relations with Iran in terms of both oil imports and investment in Chabahar port in the wake of the US sanctions against the Persian Gulf country. The US has told India and other countries to cut oil imports from Iran to "zero" by 4 November or face sanctions. The first set of US sanctions against Iran will kick in from 6 August.
Iran is India's third-largest oil supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of fiscal 2017-18). "India's bilateral relations with Iran stand on their own and are not influenced by India's relations with any third country," Singh said in a written reply, adding, "Government will take all necessary measures to safeguard our national interest." He also referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Iran in May 2016 and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit here in February.
"In keeping with understandings reached during these visits, both sides are engaged in developing a long term partnership in energy; deepening of trade and investment cooperation; and an early and full operations of Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar," he said. His comments came a day after a high-level delegation from the US held crucial talks with Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale over the US sanctions against Iran.
However, on Thursday, former foreign secretary S Jaishankar had said that "a major reason for delay in execution of the Chabahar port project was due to delays from the Iranian side.
Meanwhile, On the issue of US sanctions, India has been maintaining that it will go by what is in the country's national interest. India and Iran held extensive talks on Monday on ways to deal with the impact of the sanctions and decided that both the countries will maintain the momentum of mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation.
In May, the Trump administration had pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and brought back economic sanctions against Tehran. Singh said India has maintained that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved through dialogue by respecting Iran's right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. He said all parties should engage constructively to address and resolve issues that have arisen with respect to the Iran nuclear deal. Singh said India continues to monitor the developments and study the implications of the withdrawal of the US from the Iran deal.
On postponement of the '2+2' dialogue with the US, he said it was done at the request of the US Secretary of State on account of his "unavoidable and unforeseen commitments".
Updated Date: Jul 20, 2018 07:56 AM