New Delhi, June 3: Tehran has described New Delhi’s political stance on international issues as “quite fair and impartial” in what India sees as a further effort to embarrass it into adopting a more pro-Iran line in that country’s tussles with the West.
Iran foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who ended a two-day New Delhi trip on Friday, had stressed the commonalities between the two countries and urged India to treat Iran as “a reliable partner” and “a reliable source of energy for India”.
Yesterday, Iran’s official news agency, Irna, released an interview in which Salehi says: “The political stances of India are quite fair and impartial. This shows the importance of India in the international arena. India, as the world’s biggest democracy, has been regarded as a key player since the onset of its independence from colonial rule.”
Iran has conveyed to India that it hopes New Delhi would oppose the West-sponsored economic sanctions on Tehran that kick in later this month and resist US pressure to scale down its trade ties with Iran.
“We have told the Iranians they need to appreciate our strategic interests with the Americans and European Union (EU) member states,” an Indian official said.
New Delhi has argued that it needs to protect Indian private and public-sector companies from coming under western sanctions for trading with Iranian entities.
The Iranians are not convinced, sources said. They have cited India’s lowering of its crude oil imports from Iran over the past few years as an example of New Delhi yielding to Washington’s diktat.
India argues it would like to diversify the sources of its oil by not relying only on West Asia, a volatile region. But the Iranians cite how India has actually increased its import of oil from Saudi Arabia and Iraq — countries with US-friendly governments.
Iran wants New Delhi to criticise western pressure on Tehran more strongly and take a line independent of the West on Syria.
Yesterday, defence minister A.K. Antony emphasised Iran’s strategic importance to India in his lecture at the Asia Security Summit in Singapore.