New Delhi, July 12: In the wake of India reducing its oil imports from Iran, former vice president Hamid Ansari said that New Delhi should not buckle under international pressure and abandon ties with Tehran. Ansari said that India-Iran ties dated back to thousands of years.
India's oil imports from Iran showed a decline of over 25 per cent in June, but some shipments loaded last month are expected to arrive this month, government and industry officials had said. Reports suggest that India may have reduced oil supply from Iran under the pressure from the United States.
"India is a major importer of oil. We get energy supplies from Iran. It is not only an important energy partner, it is much beyond that. It is located in our neighbourhood and borders -- Pakistan and Afghanistan. We need to understand such things. Iran is a country having political, cultural and strategic partnerships with India," Ansari told ANI.
He underscored that the bilateral relations between the two countries dated back to thousands of years, adding that the governments of both countries have a mutual understanding with each other.
Ansari further said that it was not the first time India buckled under pressure in abandoning its relationship with Iran.
"This is not the first time this pressure came. During the Iran-Iraq war in 1980-88, some Arab friends told that India should leave Iran. Our relations are straight. It is not determined by the interests of other countries. The Indian and Iranian governments understand each other and we share warm and cordial relations with Iran," he added.
The Congress today slammed the government over the decline in India's oil imports from Iran in June, saying it shows that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a "paper tiger" who has given in to US pressure.
Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill alleged the reduction in oil import from Iran once again proves that Prime Minister Modi's foreign policy is "confusing and circular". The prime minister has "once again prioritised" the US' interests over India's national interests when it comes to controlling fuel prices, he told reporters in the national capital.
The reduction in import of oil from Iran will directly squeeze the pockets of the common man, reduce the supply, increase the fuel prices and bloat the current account deficit, he claimed.
"As far as oil goes, the Indian Government has a unique policy that profit is mine and loss is yours," Shergill said.
Iran today said it will do its best to ensure security of oil supply to India, asserting that it has been a reliable energy partner for New Delhi. The clarification by Iranian Embassy came a day after Iran's Deputy Ambassador and Charge d'Affaires Massoud Rezvanian Rahaghi cautioned New Delhi that it will stand to lose "special privileges" if it cuts import of Iranian oil following US sanctions.
It said Iran understands the difficulties being faced by New Delhi in dealing with the unstable energy market and that it was for India to choose its energy partners, taking into account various factors like geopolitical considerations and reliability of the oil suppliers.
The embassy said Iran will do its best to ensure security of oil supply to India by offering various flexible measures which facilitate bilateral trade, particularly Indian exports to Iran. In an address at a seminar yesterday, Rahaghi said Iran will end the privileges being provided to India if it tries to source oil from countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the US and others to offset cuts in Iranian oil import.
The Trump administration brought back sanctions against Iran after pulling out the US from the Iran nuclear deal in May. The US has told India and other countries to cut oil imports from the Gulf nation to "zero" by November 4 or face sanctions. India is yet to take a call on complying with the US sanctions on Iran.
OneIndia News with PTI inputs