While the plane of the Iranian Foreign Minister was landing at the New Delhi airport for unexpected talks with his Indian counterpart, Indians have been wondering about the timing and purpose of this last-moment scheduled meeting.
Javad Zarif has come at a peculiar time, in the middle of India’s general elections. If he was to wait two more weeks, he could arrange talks with a new government, but the urgency of the meeting speaks volumes.
@aveeksen Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif making a trip to India tomorrow. Will be interesting to note what is announced post the visit. But why now? Elections are underway in India. Two weeks later, he would have been able to have proper negotiations with the new government
But as Washington puts pressure on Iranian oil importers, some Indians agree that some issues cannot wait.
India was once Iran's top oil client after China. Then the US and sanctions stepped in. Last year India, along with seven other nations, received a waiver from Washington which allowed them to import some oil. But earlier this month, the US renewed sanctions and New Delhi had to stop any purchases of Iranian crude. But while big politics are being decided in high places, Indians themselves seem positive about Iran, with many saying India should stick to its vows to Iran.
Obviously cheaper prices on Iranian oil, free shipping and 60 days of credit for Indian oil importers don’t harm these Iran-sympathising moods. There are alternatives to Iranian oil: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq, Mexico, and the US, but their crude is more expensive and geographically makes less sense than Iran.
India and Iran also have joint projects like the Chabahar Port, which should promote India’s influence in the region. And cutting ties with Tehran could harm this ambition. These ties are apparently close enough for Tehran to try to blackmail or bribe India into cooperation.
Indian media report that Sharif could offer New Delhi a lure in a form of easier access to the Farzad-B gas bloc, whose gas reserve is estimated at 21.6 trillion cubic ft.
Whatever Zarif has proposed to India today, one thing is clear for most Indians online: India is going to find itself between a rock and a hard place. The solution they propose? Put Indian interests first.
- Published in World