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Iranian Foreign Minister coming to India amid tensions with US

Amid growing tensions between the US and Iran, the Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif will pay a visit here and hold talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tomorrow.

Iranian Foreign Minister coming to India amid tensions with US
Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif

New Delhi

The discussions between Swaraj and Zarif are expected to focus on the bilateral relations as well as the deteriorating ties between Iran and the US, which recently ended a waiver on export of oil from the Persian nation to India and some other countries.

The US last month announced that it would not extend the exemptions granted in November last year to India and seven other countries for importing oil from Iran for a period of 180 days, which expired on May 2.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while making the announcement on April 22, warned that any nation or entity "interacting with Iran should do its diligence and err on the side of caution. The risks are simply not going to be worth the benefits."

Lately, the tensions in the Persian Gulf have also been increasing after the US said that Iran was preparing some kind of an attack and has dispatched Naval warships, including an aircraft carrier, along with B-52 bombers, to the region.

Iran has vowed to retaliate if it is attacked.

With the aim of stepping up pressure on Iran, the Trump administration on May 8 imposed sanctions on Iran's iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors, in addition to those applied on several sectors last year, including banking and oil.

US President Donald Trump has also abandoned the nuclear pact with Iran despite other signatories expressing their commitment to it and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certifying on 14 occasions that Iran was continuing to comply with its commitments under the agreement.

On May 8, exactly a year after the US withdrew from the agreement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that the country was reducing its own commitments under the agreement, signed in Vienna in 2015 in order to prevent the country from building nuclear weapons.

Rouhani also gave a 60-day deadline to the pact's remaining signatories to fulfill Iran's demands and save the country's banking system and oil trade from international sanctions.

Significantly, Pompeo on Monday made an unscheduled visit to Brussels to hold talks with European Union officials on Iran.

Pompeo, who had been scheduled to head to Russia, landed in Brussels to discuss pressing issues with EU diplomats, said a US State Department official.

UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt spoke in Brussels of the dangers of an accidentally-triggered conflict between the US and Iran over the unraveling of the 2015 nuclear pact signed by Iran, Russia, China, the EU, the UK, France, Germany and the US.

"We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended," Hunt said it was important not to push Iran back towards re-nuclearization.

The EU has taken a number of measures to counter the sanctions imposed by the US last year to isolate Iran economically.

On Monday, a joint statement issued by the High Representative of the European Union and the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the UK said, "we regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the United States following their withdrawal from the JCPoA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). We are determined to continue pursuing efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran, including through the operationalisation of the special purpose vehicle "INSTEX".

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