India on Tuesday said that a decision on import of oil from Iran will be taken after the general elections as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met her visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, weeks after the US ended its Iranian oil waiver for India and others.
Sources said the Iranian Foreign Minister’s visit took place at his own initiative to brief the Indian side on his country’s approach to the recent developments in the region, including on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the nuclear pact) and to review bilateral cooperation.
This was part of Tehran’s consultation with other countries in the region including Russia, China, Turkmenistan, and Iraq over the last few days.
The visit came amid growing tensions between Iran and US, which last month announced that it would not extend the exemptions granted in November last year to India and seven other countries for importing oil from Iran for a period of 180 days – a period which expired on May 2.
During the talks between Sushma Swaraj and Zarif, the Chabahar Port also came up for discussion and both sides expressed satisfaction at the operationalisation of the interim contract between India Ports Global Ltd and Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO).
On purchase of oil from Iran, she reiterated the position that a decision will be taken after the elections keeping in mind India’s commercial considerations, energy security and economic interests.
Both sides shared their views on the situation in Afghanistan and agreed to maintain close coordination on the evolving situation.
On the nuclear pact, Sushma Swaraj reiterated India’s position that it would like all parties to the agreement to continue to fulfill their commitments and all parties should engage constructively and resolve all issues peacefully and through dialogue.
Zarif cited Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement on May 8 – exactly a year after the US withdrew from the agreement – that the country was reducing its own commitments under the agreement, signed in Vienna in 2015 in order to prevent the country from building nuclear weapons.
Rouhani had also given a 60-day deadline to the pact’s remaining signatories – the EU and its members Britain, France and Germany, as well as China and Russia, to fulfil Iran’s demands and save the country’s banking system and oil trade from international sanctions.
India is keen to balance its ties between the US and Iran following Washington’s decision against renewing waivers on oil. Besides Iran being India’s third biggest supplier, its Chabahar port is seen as a gateway for trade opportunities with Central Asian countries.
Lately, tensions in the Persian Gulf have been increasing after the US said that Iran was preparing some kind of an attack and has dispatched warships, including an aircraft carrier, along with B-52 bombers, to the region.
Iran has vowed to retaliate if it is attacked.