THE US has told India that it is not in Washington’s interest to damage the Indian economy as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo discussed the issue of oil imports from Iran. As the US has walked out of the nuclear deal with Iran, it wants all countries to cut oil imports to zero by early November.
At the first-ever India-US 2+2 dialogue, sources told The Indian Express that the Indian side “frankly” put across their position on oil imports from Iran. “We told them that we are an energy reliant country, and candidly told them that rapid reduction of oil imports from Iran will impact our economy. We said that our economy should not be impacted by your policies,” a source said.
According to the Indian government source, the US side replied they “fully understand”, and added that it is “our policy”, but “it is not in our interest to damage your economy”.
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Pompeo, however, in his remarks said, “We have told the Indians consistently, as we have told every nation, that on November 4th the sanctions with respect to Iranian crude oil will be enforced, and that we will consider waivers where appropriate, but that it is our expectation that the purchases of Iranian crude oil will go to zero from every country, or sanctions will be imposed. So we’ll work with the Indians. We committed that we would do that. Many countries are in a place where they — it takes a little bit of time to unwind, and we’ll work with them, I am sure, to find an outcome that makes sense.”
“And from whence they purchase the other crude oil, we’re happy to see if it’s American products that are able to deliver for them. I think that’d be a great outcome. But our mission set is to make sure that Iran doesn’t engage in malign behaviour with wealth that comes from countries around the world, thus the purpose of the sanctions,” the US Secretary said. India has already told them it is going to buy oil and gas from the US.
On the S-400 deal with Russia, Indian government sources said that it did not figure in the Pompeo-Swaraj bilateral or the 2+2 dialogue. The US wants to put sanctions on countries making defence deals with Russia, but a special waiver under the US law is in the works. While the US Congress has passed the waiver, the US President still has to personally certify waiver for the S-400 deal.
Pompeo, however, said, “With respect to the S-400, no decision has been made. We are working to impose CAATSA Section 231 in a way that is appropriate and lawful and to exercise that waiver authority only where it makes sense. And we as a team, the national security team, will work on that, and as we continue to have these conversations with India about that, I think, come to an outcome that makes sense for each of our two countries.”