India to ignore US sanctions on Iran, Venezuela, says FM

Published May 29, 2018
New Delhi: Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (right) greets her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif before their meeting.—AP
New Delhi: Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (right) greets her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif before their meeting.—AP

NEW DELHI: India will keep trading with Iran and Venezuela despite the threat of fallout from US sanctions against the two countries, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Monday.

Swaraj, asked at a news conference whether US action against Iran and Venezuela would damage India, said the country would not make foreign policy “under pressure”.

US President Donald Trump this month withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and ordered the reimposition of sanctions suspended under the 2015 accord.

Washington has also tightened sanctions against Venezuela over the controversial re-election of President Nicolas Maduro.

Both countries are key oil suppliers to India and the United States has warned that foreign companies which deal with Iran could themselves be punished.

But Swaraj said New Delhi did not believe in “reactionary” policies and would not be dictated to by other countries.

“We don’t make our foreign policy under pressure from other countries,” she told a news conference. “We believe in UN sanctions but not in country-specific sanctions.”

Swaraj’s comments came just before a meeting with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in New Delhi.

Bilateral trade between India and Iran amounted to $12.9 billion in 2016-17. India imported $10.5 billion worth of goods, mainly crude oil, and exported commodities worth $2.4 billion.

India has other interests in Iran, in particular a commitment to build the port of Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman.

The port is being touted as a way for India to establish trade routes that bypass rival Pakistan.

Media reports have speculated India could revive a rupee-rial payment arrangement with Iran to shield exporters from the heat of US sanctions.

Swaraj also said India would continue trading with Venezuela, but there was no plan to use its local cryptocurrency in oil trade.

“We cannot have any trade in cryptocurrency as it is banned by the Reserve Bank of India. We will see which medium we can use for trade,” she said.“India follows only U.N. sanctions, and not unilateral sanctions by any country,” she said at a news conference.

India and Iran have long-standing political and economic ties, with Iran one of India’s top oil suppliers.“Zarif briefed about the discussions that Iran has undertaken with parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action following the US decision to withdraw from the Agreement,” said an Indian government statement, without elaborating.

India continued trade with Iran during previous sanctions but had to cut oil imports as the sanctions choked off banking channels and insurance cover for tankers.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2018

Opinion

Quest for truth
18 Jun 2021

Quest for truth

News travels quickly and without any editorial checks.
Controversial poll reforms
Updated 17 Jun 2021

Controversial poll reforms

If govt doesn’t engage opposition in dialogue, its last two years may be spent in dealing with a controversy over electoral laws.

Editorial

Poll bill reservations
Updated 18 Jun 2021

Poll bill reservations

Reforming the electoral process is vital for Pakistan, and doing so by taking everyone on board is equally important.
18 Jun 2021

E-fund transfer fee

THE State Bank’s decision to withdraw the facility of free of cost digital fund transfer services is disappointing...
18 Jun 2021

Gaza bombed again

MEMORIES of last month’s savage assault by Israel targeting Gaza had not yet faded when earlier this week news...
Shameful behaviour
17 Jun 2021

Shameful behaviour

Both opposition and treasury members should create space for opinions to be heard and aired.
17 Jun 2021

Sindh budget

A CURSORY reading of the Sindh budget 2021-22 reinforces the impression that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s...
17 Jun 2021

West on China

IN what seems like a distinct return to Cold War rhetoric, the Western bloc has issued back-to-back statements...