India reiterates its stand to US on strategic relations with Iran

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (right) and US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin during a meeting in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
India, on Friday, reiterated its stance to the United States regarding the importance of a strategic relationship with Iran in the face of denial of land access by Pakistan to Afghanistan. This was conveyed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to her US counterpart, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“From our side we explained the Indian position, particularly the need to maintain land-based access to Afghanistan. We explained the need for us to have the Chabahar port link, and from there the rail corridor to Afghanistan. This is especially in the context of Pakistan denying us access through land,” Sitharaman said.

US President Donald Trump had reinstated a number of sanctions on Iran which his predecessor Barack Obama had tried to dismantle. The latest sanctions were intended to force Iran to dramatically alter its policies in the region, including its support for militant groups in the region and its development of ballistic missiles. The US has said it will impose sanctions on whoever deals with Iran.

Sitharaman explained that India’s relation with Iran was a strategic one, especially regarding the Chabahar Port and the corridor to Afghanistan. Iran’s only deep sea port and the rail links leading out of it have been constructed and developed with India’s help.

On his part Mnuchin said that the U.S has been working with allies, especially in the Middle East, to ensure that there is enough oil supply to offset the sanctions against Iran. “We are sensitive to the fact that India has tremendous energy needs. We look forward to working with India on liquefied natural gas,” he said.

“We are working together to promote growth and promote economic security in both of our countries. I look forward to the Indian government’s goal of reaching to a $5 trillion economy, I think that they will hit that goal even faster than they expect, with what are great economic opportunities as they promote growth,” Mnuchin said.

The Treasury Secretary added that the United States and China were working hard to conclude a trade deal following directions from their leaders.

A statement released after the meeting between Sitharaman and Mnuchin said that a range of issues were discussed such as the global, US, and Indian economic outlooks, global debt sustainability, financial sector reforms, leveraging of capital flows and investment, and tackling money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.

“As India gears up for the 2022 Presidency of the G20, the United States stands ready to support India in hosting a successful and focused Presidency,” the statement said.

“The United States and India recognize the importance of foreign portfolio investors for supporting economic growth, and discussed ways to build on India’s positive steps in further opening to greater foreign portfolio investment.  Both sides welcome the growing bilateral foreign direct investment between our countries and underscore the importance of India taking steps to improve its investment climate for all types of investors.  These investments will help to boost growth for both countries,” it said.

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