Disappointed with India’s decision to cut oil imports: Iranian minister

New Delhi, March 2: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has acknowledged that Tehran was “obviously disappointed” with India’s decision to cut oil imports following US sanctions and voiced optimism about a US-Iran nuclear deal being inked within the next five months.

In an interview to CNN-IBN news channel, Zarif, who was in India on a two-day visit this week, said: “We were obviously disappointed (with India’s decision to cut imports) It is detrimental to the economy of our trading partners if they decide to cut their purchases from Iran because of pressure from the United States.”

Zarif added that Tehran hoped to resume the oil trade cooperation with India. “And we are working with many forces, including P5+1, to put an end to any excuse to any impediment to our trade with others, which we believe are illegal to begin with.”

On talks with India over a $5 billion payment for oil imports, Zarif said Iran expects India to repatriate the money “in one way or another”.

He said: “Humanitarian trade is also an area India can pay for those oil purchases. We want this money, and our economic cooperation with India in the area of energy to boost the relationship between the two countries and not be an impediment to our relations, and we are sure that with goodwill, we will provide a resolution.”

Asked by the news channel if India has given him any assurance of increasing oil imports, the minister said oil exports to India had gone up and “we hope it will continue to go up. You have a major need for sources of energy. Iran is probably the most reliable provider for it”.

To a question on how confident he was of a US-Iran nuclear deal being inked this year, Zarif said: “Well, I believe with political will and good faith, a deal is totally possible because Iran never wanted nor will it ever want nuclear weapons.”

“But we want our rights. We want our right to have a peaceful nuclear programme. And if that is the intention, then I think it is quite possible to reach an agreement, and I am optimistic that within the next five months, we will.”

On talks between India and Iran on bilateral cooperation, the Iranian minister said there were a whole range of possibilities for cooperation, including political. On the issue of fighting terrorism and extremism, “which is not restricted to Afghanistan but much wider, but most importantly, cooperation to boost economic growth in the region”.

He said both could also work on the Chabahar port and a north-south corridor, which would provide India with the possibility of export to Central Asia and also help Afghanistan.

“So, these are all policies that will benefit all, and benefit Afghanistan in the process,” he said.

The interview will be aired by CNN-IBN Monday.

IANS