Last updated: 5 March, 2012

Sanctions-hit Iran seeks to boost India ties

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday told an Indian minister ahead of a trade visit from the sub-continent that sanctions-hit Tehran wants to boost ties with New Delhi, the presidency website said.

“The Islamic republic of Iran sees no restriction in expanding comprehensive ties including trade, joint investment, scientific, cultural and tourism with India,” he was quoted as telling Farooq Abdullah, India’s minister for new and renewable energy.

The website quoted Abdullah as saying: “The Indian government seeks an expansion of cooperation in all fields of the economy, trade, commerce and culture” with Iran.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisations said on Friday that an Indian trade group will visit Iran from March 10-14 to explore “huge opportunities” created by US-led sanctions over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.

It said Indian exporters had settled a major problem on how to receive payments from Tehran in the face of sanctions on dollar deals.

The method gives New Delhi a way to circumvent Western sanctions on normal banking operations.

Iran is India’s second-largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia, providing around 12 percent of the fast-growing country’s crude needs.

India has been examining ways to step up trade with Iran amid problems in settling its oil bills because of the intensifying sanctions campaign aimed at forcing Tehran to abandon its controversial nuclear programme.

India’s Congress party-led government says it will abide only by UN sanctions on Iran, and not implement those imposed by individual nations.