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More Iran-India trade would boost ties: delegation
 
TEHRAN, March 10, (BSS/AFP) - Boosting exports from India to Iran would not only help right lopsided trade but also deepen ties between the two countries, a major Indian delegation said today at the start of a five- day visit.

"New Delhi is seeking to increase its exports to Iran and
sees the increase in trade as a sign of deepening relations,"
Rafeeq Ahmed, president of the government-backed Federation of
Indian Export Organisations, told a Tehran meeting of Iranian
businessmen.

"New Delhi gives ample importance to boosting ties with
Tehran," he said, according to quotes reported by Iran's official
IRNA news agency.

The delegation, counting around 70 government and corporate
representatives, is exploring what India sees as "huge" potential
in increasing sales to Iran at a time the Islamic republic is
being cut off from other markets because of ramped-up Western
sanctions.

India, which buys $14 billion worth of oil from Iran per
year but currently sells just $2.7 billion of goods to the
Islamic republic, refuses to go along with the US-led sanctions.

With Iran having agreed to receive 45 percent of its Indian
oil revenues in rupees, instead of harder-to-collect dollars, the
scope for buying more Indian goods has greatly widened.

Arvind Mehta, joint secretary in the Indian commerce
ministry, was quoted as saying that "high quality and cheap
agricultural products, medicine and hospital services are among
the fields of cooperation which Iran can benefit from its Indian
partner."

The secretary general of Tehran's Chamber of Commerce,
Mohammad Mehdi Rasekh, said he also saw opportunities for Indian
suppliers.

"India has capabilities in the fields of food industry,
medicine, metals and machinery and car parts, and in return Iran
has capabilities in plastic material, polymers and chemicals, and
thus cooperation in this regard can be boosted," he said.

But while India is focusing on the possible trade boost with
Iran, it will also have to balance its growing partnership with
the United States and maintain its good relations with Israel, a
key arms supplier.

A source close to the Indian delegation said in New Delhi
that the companies involved -- which were not identified by
Indian officials -- were worried about potential US reprisals.

US lawmakers and pro-Israel groups have accused New Delhi of
undermining American and European efforts to isolate Tehran and
force it to abandon its nuclear programme.

An attack that severely injured an Israeli diplomat in New
Delhi last month -- blamed by Israel on Iran -- has added further
complications.

The Indian trade team is to stay in Iran until March 14.

Iran is India's second-largest oil supplier after Saudi
Arabia, and while India has diversified to cut its dependence on
the country in recent years, New Delhi says replacement of "all
Iranian oil imports" is not "a realistic option".
 
 
 
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