Revise relations with Iran: Nikki Haley tells Modi

Nikki Haley at an event in New Delhi.

Nikki Haley at an event in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Calling Iran a “threat” to the world, U.S. envoy to the U.N. Nikki Haley said she had raised concerns over trade with Iran during her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

“President [Donald] Trump has said we need to hold Iran to account,” she told an audience during an interaction hosted by the think-tank ORF in the capital, adding that Tehran’s violations of its nuclear commitments and alleged sponsorship of terrorism made it the “next North Korea.” “We are going to keep the pressure on [Iran] and we hope all other countries will join us… I did talk with Prime Minister Modi about this as well…the U.S. is going to work with our friends and allies to ensure that we are all pushing Iran to be an accountable neighbour.”

In an interview to NDTV, Ms. Haley also called on India to “rethink its relationship with Iran.”

“I think as a friend [of the U.S.] India should decide whether [Iran] is a country they want to continue doing business with,” she said adding that her conversation with Mr. Modi had been a “constructive” one. The comments by Ms. Haley appear to be a part of a concerted campaign by the U.S. to ensure that India, Iran’s second biggest oil-importer after China, cuts its oil trade.

This is will prove especially tricky since New Delhi had committed to raising its imports from Tehran by as much 25% after a visit by Iranian President Rouhani in February this year. The U.S. strictures follow President Trump’s decision in May to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) multilateral nuclear deal and subsequently bring in the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law that sanctions countries dealing with the Washington’s “adversaries”.

On Wednesday, a senior U.S. State Department official had clarified that India must comply with the U.S. sanctions against Iran and bring oil imports to “zero” by its November 4 deadline. “We have seen the statement made by the State Department official,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. “The statement was not India specific and applies to all countries.”

“We have seen the statement made by the State Department official on this matter,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. “The statement was not India specific and applies to all countries. India will take all necessary steps, including engagement with relevant stakeholders to ensure our energy security,” he added, without specifying whether Iran supplies would remain unchanged.

At a press conference in May, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had been more categorical about maintaining ties with Tehran, when she had said that India would comply only with UN sanctions, not U.S. sanctions.

On the subject of Pakistan, Ms. Haley, who ended her three-day visit to India on Thursday, said the Trump administration had sent tougher message on support to terror groups than in the past.

“In many instances, Pakistan has been a partner with us, and we value and respect that. But we cannot tolerate its government, or any other government, giving safe haven to terrorists. We won’t tolerate it. We are communicating this message to Pakistan more strongly than in the past and we hope to see changes,” she said.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 1:43:50 PM |

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