India’s government asserted on Wednesday that it has no plans to halt trade with the Islamic Republic of Iran despite stern words from the US. The development came as a major turnaround in the nation’s stance towards unilateral US sanctions against Tehran.
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muralidharan said India’s relations with Iran remain unchanged and are “not influenced by relations with a third country”. Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pointed out that “although Iran supplies 11% of our energy; India had reduced oil imports from Iran.”
The cabinet minister said there is no specific government-to-government agreement on the import of crude from Iran. “Such imports are based on commercial contracts between companies,” the minister added.
During his bilateral meet with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of G-20 in Japan, Modi had said India had reduced the import of crude from Iran and that despite “the effect it had on the Indian economy we had been able to sustain this position”.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iranian Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni asserted that his country can provide “affordability, accessibility and security” in the energy sector to India.
“We expect from a friend…that we understand each other, follow our national interest, and Iran is ready to be the protector of the energy security of India,” the ambassdor said while adding that oil imports may have been stopped but Iran had not got any “negative signal” from India that they would do so in future.
Amabassador Chegeni spoke to the media on the sidelines of an Iran-India cultural event in New Delhi.
“India is a friend forever. We understand that India will act according to its national interest. As we understand from Jaishankar’s statement that India will follow its national interest. That is acceptable for everybody,” he added.
India had initially opted to bow to the US sanctions after the Trump administration decided to end the waivers on 2 May that it granted to eight of Iran’s top oil customers — China, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Greece and Turkey, which had been issued last November.