India is one of our most important partners: Iran Foreign Minister with Sushma Swaraj
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will reach New Delhi on Tuesday to hold talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj primarily on impact of the US ending waivers on import of oil from Iran, and ways to deal with it, official sources said.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, Javad Zarif will arrive at 11.45 PM on Tuesday and depart at 2:30 PM on Wednesday.
His visit comes, 12 days after six-month-long exemptions from US sanctions to India and seven other countries to buy oil from Iran ended.The issue is expected to figure prominently in the talks, the sources said.
After the exemptions expired on May 2, India said it will deal with the issue based on three factors — the country’s energy security, commercial consideration and economic interests.
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.
The world’s third biggest oil consumer, India meets more than 80 per cent of its oil needs through imports. Iran is its third largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia and meets about 10 per cent of its total needs.
Sources said the Chabahar port project is also likely to figure in the meeting between Mr Zarif and Ms Swaraj.
Indo-Iran ties have been on an 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.