India expects clarity on Iranian oil imports after U.S. meeting

Vastavam web: India will not completely halt Iranian oil imports and will finalise its strategy on crude purchases from Tehran after a meeting with top U.S. officials next week, a senior government official said. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will hold high-level talks with India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sept. 6, in what is known as a 2+2 dialogue.

When asked if more clarity on India’s Iranian oil purchases would emerge after the dialogue, the official said “yes, that is the highest level of meeting we will have with the U.S.” The United States is pushing all countries to halt oil imports from Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers and ordered a re-imposition of sanctions on Tehran. Trump has threatened that anyone trading with Iran will not do business with America.

U.S. sanctions on Iran’s energy sector are set to be re-imposed after a 180-day “wind-down period” ending on Nov. 4. But that has proven difficult: several European companies have cut ties with Iran, arguing they cannot risk losing their U.S. business as the sanctions deadline approaches. India has already asked its refiners to prepare for a drastic reduction in imports of crude from Tehran from November, sources told Reuters in June.

New Delhi has so far not committed to complying fully with the new U.S. sanctions, but is prepared to cut Iran oil imports to protect its wider exposure to the U.S. financial system.