The United States is nudging India to stop buying oil from Venezuela as part of its efforts to tighten the noose around the beleaguered Nicholas Maduro regime in the Latin American country.
The US is believed to have raised the issue again on Tuesday night at the foreign office consultations between India and the US in Washington. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale was told by US Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale that Washington hoped India would not be the “economic lifeline” to the “authoritarian” regime of President Maduro in Venezuela by purchasing oil. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had also taken up the issue with Gokhale during their bilateral meeting on Monday.
Venezuela is the third largest supplier of oil to India which is the world’s third-biggest oil consumer.
A statement issued by the US State Department after the Indo-US foreign office consultations confirmed that Venezuela figured during the meeting.
Venezuela Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo, who was in India last month, had stated that his sanctions-hit country wanted to sell more crude oil to India. Venezuela produces around 1.57 million barrels of oil per day, half of what it produced two decades back.
An official said India was looking into the issue raised by the US regarding its oil purchases from Venezuela. The official said India would keep in mind its energy needs while taking a decision in the matter.
However, it is learnt that India has asked its oil companies to cut down their oil purchases from Venezuela.