Congressmen ask India to reconsider decision on ties with Iran

Two US lawmakers have asked India to reconsider its decision to send a trade delegation to Iran and expressed their concern over reports that it has surpassed China as the top purchaser of Iranian crude oil.

"We write today to express our serious concern with the announcement that your government will send a large trade delegation to Iran within the next few weeks in order to explore economic opportunities," said Congressmen Steve Israel and Richard Hanna in a letter to Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao.

"We know India shares our goal of ensuring that Iran does not get a nuclear capability and appreciate India's votes against Iran at the IAEA. We also appreciate that India has ended the sale of refined petroleum to Iran and has not moved forward with the India-Pakistan-Iran pipeline," they said in the letter dated February 15.

"But now is not the time to neither explore future trade opportunities with Iran nor increase business ties. We respectfully urge your government to reconsider its decision to send a trade delegation to Iran and ask that you stand firm with the international coalition working diligently to pressure the Iranian regime to abandon its dangerous pursuit of nuclear weapons," they said.

The Congressmen said, the Indian announcement of sending trade delegation to Iran comes as the international coalition working to isolate the Iranian regime continues to stand firm in applying pressure through international sanctions aimed at Iran's energy and financial sectors.

"At a time when global businesses and financial institutions are pulling out of Iran and refusing to conduct business, we hope that your country will join this coalition instead of hindering its progress," they said.

"We are also deeply concerned to learn of reports that India has surpassed China as the top purchaser of Iranian crude oil. Financial institutions that continue to facilitate purchases of petroleum products from Iran could now face possible sanctions according to US law," the Congressmen said.

"Our allies around the globe are now searching for non- Iranian sources to meet their energy needs. Given the strong US-India partnership, we hope that your country will follow suit and decrease its reliance on Iranian crude oil," they hoped.

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