Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif has arrived in India on a three-day visit,with the recent rise in tension between Iran and the US on the agenda. Zarif is scheduled to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 15th and will then deliver a talk at the Raisina Dialogue conference, organised by the External Affairs Ministry.
Zarif is to have a breakfast meeting with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on January 16th to discuss means of de-escalating tension between Iran and the US in the aftermath of the killing of Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani in an American drone attack.
According to the Economic Times, India is profoundly worried about rising tensions between Iran and the US. To India peace, security and stability in the Gulf region is of great importance. Any escalation in the region would lead to an increase in oil prices, thus negatively affecting India’s expanding economy, which experienced 4.5% growth rate during the last quarter of 2019.
India buys more than 80% of its oil needs from Saudi Arabia and the UAE but has refrained from importing any oil from Iran due to the US pressure.
Additionally, Indian expatriates who work in the Gulf area send annual remittances estimated to be around $40 billion, which make a significant contribution to India’s economy.
Earlier this week, Jaishankar discussed ways of defusing tension with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and some of his Gulf counterparts.
India urgently needs to enhance its policy of self-sufficiency and to decrease its oil consumption in order to achieve energy stability in the long run, according to The Week. The country already plans to increase its nuclear capacity and increase its renewable sources for energy. At a time when fuel prices are steadily increasing, additional development in different sources of renewable energy is seen by many as the best way to overcome any future energy crisis that could affect the Indian economy.
During recent months, India has sought to increase security and economic partnerships with Iran as well as with other powers in the Gulf region. Ensuring the stability of the Strait of Hormuz is crucial for India’s energy imports, The Economic Times reported.
On January 9th, the US Defence Secretary Mark Esper briefed his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singhin a phone call about the recent developments in the Gulf region, with Singh responding with India’s concerns. Meanwhile, India is remotely monitoring the situation in the region to see how it develops, in order to identify any future steps, according to the Live Mint website.