Iran Prez Calls PM Amid US Pressure to Cut Oil Imports

New Delhi
Iran Prez Calls PM Amid US Pressure to Cut Oil Imports

Against the backdrop of US pressure on India to cut oil imports from Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has called up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to emphasise that expansion of ties in different fields would lead to "considerable achievements" for both nations.

Ahmadinejad called up the Prime Minister on Monday last primarily to invite him to the upcoming Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit to be hosted by his country in August, sources said today.

He told Singh that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi would be travelling to New Delhi shortly carrying his personal invitation for the Summit, the sources said.

During the conversation, the two leaders talked about the status of bilateral ties and international issues of mutual interest, the sources said.

According to an official statement issued by Ahmedinejad's office soon after the telephonic talk, the Iranian President "stressed (on) expansion of Tehran-New Delhi cooperation in different fields".

The President said that "promotion of bilateral cooperation would lead to considerable achievements for both nations," it said.

Ahmadinejad said Iran and India enjoy "deep brotherly relations" and that "the two nations would witness bright future", the statement said.

The Prime Minister, on his part, said India attaches great importance to ties with Iran and "called for further expansion of cooperation with Tehran", the statement said.

"The Premier said India welcomes widening relations with Iran on the basis of national interests," it said.

Sources here said the two leaders discussed trade-related issues. 

Significantly, the telephonic call from Ahmedinejad came close on the heels of India stating that it had cut crude oil import from Iran by over 11 per cent this fiscal to 15.5 million tons.

India, which imports 80 per cent of its crude oil and relies on Tehran for 12 per cent of those imports, shipped 18.50 million tons of oil from Iran in 2011-12, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas R P N Singh said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

The announcement about oil cut was made against the backdrop of intense US pressure on India to reduce its imports from Iran. This was flagged by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week during her visit here.

The government had earlier said that it was not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the imports from Iran drastically as that country was important in meeting India's growing energy needs.

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