Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is rushing to New Delhi to discuss with the Indian leadership ways in which the two countries could continue pursuing their economic and trade agenda despite the re-imposition of American sanctions on the Islamic nation.
Zarif is scheduled to meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other Indian leaders on Monday.
According to sources, India’s oil imports from Iran and the progress on the strategic Chabahar Port would figure prominently during the talks between the two sides.
India has been closely watching the situation arising from President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal and its implications on trade with Iran. There are indications that India would continue doing business with Iran unless the sanctions imposed by the US are endorsed by the United Nations.
“When it comes to Iran, our stand will be dictated by supreme national interests,’’ sources said.
Iran is currently the third largest oil supplier to India after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It also provides 90 days credit to Indian importers as compared to 30 days by other suppliers. India and Iran already have an Indian Rupee (IR) mechanism which has worked well during the previous sanctions era.
It would now be for the sides to decide whether they would like to continue with this mechanism or consider other options. But New Delhi might come under pressure from Washington to minimise its economic partnership with Iran.
India has pledged to invest more than $500 million to develop the strategically important Chabahar Port, which is critical to India’s outreach to Afghanistan and wider Central Asia. There are apprehensions that the Chabahar project could also suffer delay in the wake of the US sanctions.