Iran, India to expand trade ties

May 30, 2012
New Delhi, (IANS) Barely a month before U.S. and EU sanctions against Tehran become operational, Iran will hold talks with India Thursday in a bid to expand economic ties and to seek New Delhi's support for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit it will host in August.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi touches down here on a two-day visit with a personal invitation from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Tehran for the NAM summit.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will meet Salehi and discuss a host of bilateral and global issues.
Salehi is expected to pitch for stronger economic and energy ties with India amid growing Western pressure on New Delhi to scale down its oil imports from Iran.
India currently imports around 10-11 percent of its oil requirements from Iran and has reduced this marginally as it seeks to diversify its energy sources. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is understood to have taken up the issue of Iranian oil imports with Krishna during her visit to New Delhi May 8.
The U.S. sanctions against Iran's central bank are scheduled to take effect on June 28 and the European Union's oil embargo will kick in July 1.
India has, however, made it clear to its Western interlocutors that it will continue to import Iranian oil as this is necessary for its energy security. India has maintained that it will only abide by the UN sanctions and is not bound to accept unilateral sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union.
On Friday, Salehi will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to hand over the invite from the Iranian president for visiting Iran for the NAM summit.
Iran will August-end host the 16th summit of the NAM, an international organization co-founded by India that comprises 118 countries which are not aligned to any power blocs in world politics.
Manmohan Singh has yet to decide on the visit. "We will decide about it after we receive the invite," the prime minister told reporters Tuesday while returning from Myanmar.