External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif held “good meeting” on bilateral issues, including the status of Iran nuclear deal with the EU and US sanctions against the major crude exporter to be implemented later in the year.
Swaraj and Zarif met on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly session on Wednesday and discussed “each other’s position”.
“On the issue of sanctions, India remains engaged with all stakeholders who are part of the process and Iran is one of them. So, it was natural that the issue of sanctions did come up during the meeting,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters in New York Wednesday.
Zarif shared the nuclear deal discussion Iran is having with the EU, Kumar said.
“We heard them out, we also explained our position. It is important to understand that as far as the sanctions on Iran go, we are also engaged with other stakeholders and countries, for example, the US as well,” he said.
Kumar also referred to the recently held 2+2 dialogue between India and the US and said that “there was this understating from the US side on our position”.
US President Donald Trump announced in May that the US was exiting from the Iran nuclear deal signed by the Obama administration in 2015, under which Tehran had agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
The US has told India and other countries to cut oil imports from Iran to “zero” by November 4 or face sanctions. Before the sanctions come into effect, India has been talking to several partners and countries on the issue, Kumar said.
“We are engaged with all countries in this regard. We hope that our positions, sensitivities, concerns, which we have explained to the US, must have been taken into account by them. It’s not only a question of purchasing oil from Iran but it is also a question of relationship,” he said.
Kumar then said that the two countries share age-old strong civilisation bonds. Iran is India’s third-largest oil supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of fiscal 2017-18.
(With PTI inputs)