US President Donald Trump is sending his Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook to India this week as Washington pressurises all nations to bring down their oil imports from the Islamic nation to zero before sanctions against it come into force on 4 November.

During the trip, Hook and US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Francis Fannon are expected to meet Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan as well as senior officials from the Oil, External Affairs other ministries.

The purpose of the visit was to engage America’s allies and partners on our ‘shared need’ to counter the entirety of the Iranian regime’s ‘destructive’ behaviour in West Asia and its own neighbourhood, diplomatic sources here said.

 

India is expected to reiterate that the US keep in mind its historical links with Iran and its dependence on the Islamic country for meeting its energy needs. New Delhi would also draw attention to the fact that it was reducing oil purchases from Iran but it would be impossible to bring them down to zero.

The Chabahar Port in Iran, which provides India, a critical transport link to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan, is also expected to figure during talks between the two sides. India has already told the US to keep the Chabahar project out of the sanctions’ regime as it was primarily aimed at assisting land-locked Afghanistan.

The US, however, appears hell-bent on imposing sanctions on global entities dealing with Tehran after 4 November when the second round of sanctions, aimed at targeting oil and infrastructure sector in Iran, come into force.

The visit of the US delegation comes close on the heels of the Petroleum Minister indicating recently that India would continue oil imports from Iran even after the imposition of US sanctions. State refiners Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL) are believed to have contracted 1.25 million tonnes of Iranian oil for import in November.

Meanwhile, when asked for reaction to reports that India could continue oil purchases from Iran even after 4 November, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in Washington that this would not be helpful.

Ignoring the threat of US sanctions designed to target Russia, India has already signed the S-400 missile defence systems deal with Moscow, upsetting Washington.