Amid concerns over the import of oil from Iran following US sanctions, India today said whatever is mandated to be done in its national interest will be done.
In response to a question on the comments made by Iran Deputy Ambassador and Charge d'Affaires Massoud Rezvanian Rahaghi at a seminar on Tuesday that New Delhi would stand to lose "special privileges" if it cut import of Iranian oil following US sanctions, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said his remarks were "misquoted" and that the Iranian side had issued a clarification in this regard.
The Iranian embassy released a statement yesterday that Tehran would do its best to ensure security of oil supply to New Delhi, asserting that it had been a reliable energy partner for India.
"For India, Iran is an important partner for energy and connectivity. In the clarification by the Iranian embassy, they have explained a lot of things.... It got reported, it got misquoted and they thought there was a need to clarify. They have understood our position and of course, and we do share a very strong relationship," Mr Kumar said.
He added that India is in touch with Iran on several issues, including on the fallout of the US withdrawal of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the nuclear deal signed between Iran on one side and the US, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom on the other.
In response to another question on whether there was any development on the US reaching out to India over the issue of reduction of imports from Iran, Mr Kumar said, "They had indicated. In fact, a statement was made by the US State Department that they would like to get in touch with or they are prepared to engage in discussions with various countries in the matter. They did not specify India."
He further said, "We do welcome such engagements. We have taken a note of it. We will see what necessary steps we need to take in this. One thing is very clear that whatever is mandated to be done in our national interest, those things we will be doing."
Iran is India's third-largest oil supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of fiscal 2017-18).
The US has told India and other countries to cut oil imports from Iran to "zero" by November 4 or face sanctions. The Trump Administration brought back sanctions against Iran after pulling out the US from the Iran nuclear deal.
Shipping to Iran and ports in the country are also coming under the US sanctions.
Mr Kumar did not respond to a question on whether there was any reduction in the oil imports. He said these are operational questions and should be addressed to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Mr Rahaghi had also said that it was unfortunate that Indian investment promises for expansion of Chabahar port and its connectivity projects had not been accomplished so far and that it was expected that India would take immediate necessary measures in this regard if its cooperation and engagement in the port was of strategic nature.
Mr Kumar said India is committed to the development of Shahid Beheshti Terminal of Chabahar port.
"We are moving with speed and scale. The work is underway on all interim operations," the spokesperson said.