New York: Keeping in view India’s need for significant oil imports, a top official from the Trump administration said that the US is having conversations to ensure there are alternative supplies of the fuel “so that our friend India’s economy is not adversely affected”. This development comes after the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Thursday said that New Delhi is committed to buying Iranian oil and continuing the two nations’ economic cooperation, Reuters reported. The minister issued the statement after a meeting with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj, earlier on the same day.

Notably, the US sanctions are aimed at cutting Tehran’s oil exports to zero. While the first phase of sanctions is already in place, another round of it would come into full force on November 4 and the US expects all countries, including India, to bring down their import of Iranian oil to zero by then.

The US has made it clear that any country that continues to do business with Iran will be blocked from accessing the American banking and financial system. However, the sanctions are not endorsed by the UN and it has been a traditional policy of India to enforce only UNSC-authorised sanctions. Earlier this year, the US had withdrawn from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and reimposed a series of tough sanctions on Iran.

Though India, one of the biggest importers of Iranian oil, has already reduced its import, it has indicated that it is unlikely to go down to zero given its massive energy needs. “The United States is consulting with all of its friends and partners to discuss the implementation of the sanctions after the snapback…we recognise India has a need for significant oil imports. Part of the conversation is how to ensure that there are alternative supplies of oil so that our friend India’s economy is not adversely affected,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asia Region Alice Wells told news agency PTI.

She said Indian private sector firms are exploring new suppliers of crude oil and the conversation between the US and Indian experts continues on the implementation of the sanctions, adding that America looks forward to continuing what is a very constructive dialogue.