EU asks India to broker talks with Iran

PTI New Delhi | Updated on February 10, 2012

The European Union, which has imposed fresh sanctions against Iran, today asked India to broker talks with Tehran on its nuclear programme even as the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, insisted that diplomacy should be given “maximum scope” in resolving the issue.

“We will share, I think, our deep concern on the Iranian nuclear programme, and will ask Prime Minister Singh to use India’s leverage towards Iran to help bring Tehran back to the negotiating table,” the European Council President, Mr Herman Van Rompuy, said at the 12th India-EU summit here.

Despite imposition of economic sanctions by the EU and the US, India continues to import oil from Iran which is its second largest supplier of crude.

Dr Singh, replying to a separate question, underlined that Iran was India’s “close neighbour” and an important source of energy supply.

“There are problems with Iran nuclear programme. We sincerely believe that this issue can be and should be resolved by giving maximum scope to diplomacy,” the Prime Minister said.

Dr Singh pointed out that there was a substantial number of Indians in the Gulf and it favoured peace and stability in the region.

India plans to increase its trade relations with Iran and send a business delegation by the month-end to explore trade opportunities. “If Europe and the US want to stop export to Iran, why should India follow suit. Why shouldn’t we tap that opportunity,” a government official had said.

The official said huge business opportunities have opened up in Iran after the US and Europe recently imposed sanctions on that country over its controversial nuclear programme.

Published on February 10, 2012

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