India, US hold crucial talks over Oil import from Iran

Vastavam web: A high-level delegation from the US held crucial talks with Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale over the US sanctions on import of Iranian oil amid indications that Washington may offer exemption to some countries from the restrictions. The delegation led by Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea also held separate talks with top officials of the Finance Ministry.

Official sources said the issue of US sanctions on import of Iranian oil figured in the talks the delegation had with Gokhale who explained to it India’s position on the matter. It was not immediately clear whether Gokhale requested the US delegation to consider providing India some waiver from the sanctions.

The talks here came on a day US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly said in Washington that US may consider providing waivers from the sanctions to some countries which require time to cut import of oil from Iran. The government is yet to take decision on cutting import of oil from Iran in compliance with the US sanctions. There were no official comments from the Indian and the US side.

Yesterday, India and Iran had extensive deliberations on ways to deal with the impact of the US 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. The first set of US sanctions will kick in from August 6.

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). Earlier this month, government sources said India is looking at the possibility of falling back on the rupee-rial arrangement for importing oil from Iran in the wake of US sanctions. The rupee-rial arrangement was used to buy oil from Iran before sanctions were lifted against it three years ago.