New Delhi (Sputnik): India will make a strong pitch in favor of its relations with Iran during the first Indo-US 2+2 dialogue beginning Thursday, a government source said. The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said that India had major relations with Iran and would continue to depend on the Persian country for its energy.
"We have a major relation with Iran. We want to make the point before the US that India is heavily reliant on Iran for energy. 83% of our oil comes from external sources; of this, about 25% is imported from Iran, which has been a reliable and cost-effective source," the official said.
The second batch of US sanctions against Tehran is scheduled to kick off on November 4 this year, which is expected to deal a heavy blow to India's trade with Iran. Nevertheless, the Indian government has allowed its refiners to continue importing Iranian crude oil, with Tehran arranging tankers and insurance.
In the upcoming 2+2 ministerial dialogue, India will be represented by the country's external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, and defense minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. The ministers will likely remind the US of the strategic importance of Chabahar Port.
We are looking forward to the inaugural #2Plus2Dialogue 🇺🇸🇮🇳 in #Delhi on September 6. @SecPompeo & Secretary of Defense Mattis will meet with Minister of External Affairs @SushmaSwaraj & Defence Minister @nsitharaman to discuss strategic, security, and defense cooperation. pic.twitter.com/C5Q7rOKzd1— Ken Juster (@USAmbIndia) September 4, 2018
"Chabahar is a subset of the issue. It allows humanitarian and development activities in Afghanistan. Chabahar has a major role and not simply a port financed by India. Afghanistan will also make a case on Chabahar, that it should be exempted from sanctions," the official added.
Nonetheless, India will not only ask for concessions from the US, but it also plans to increase imports from the US this year to narrow down its trade deficit, which had exceeded $1 billion last year.
"We will be importing oil worth $2.5 billion from the US this year. Washington has to appreciate these efforts being made by India," the official said.