Washington: India has been co-operating with the US on the Venezuelan sanctions and it is the “understanding” of the Trump administration that private Indian companies have stopped importing oil from the Latin American country, a top official has said.
The US official’s comment came as Washington ramps up actions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime, which is battling to hold onto power in the face of heavy domestic and international pressure. Venezuela is the third largest supplier of oil to India which is the world’s third-biggest oil consumer.The senior Trump administration official said: “My understanding is that Indian private companies, who were importing Venezuelan oil, have stopped”.
These companies, which also have interest in the US, are unlikely to ignore the US sanctions, he told reporters on Wednesday. Responding to a question on India’s response to the US efforts against the “authoritarian regime” in Venezuela, the official said that India has been co-operative with the US.
The Indians have been cooperative in communicating to the private companies,” he said, adding that the issue has been part of India-US discussion. We value our relationship with India and the strategic partnership,” the official said, adding that it is natural that Venezuela, which is very important right now, would be raised in its discussions with India.
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a meeting with the visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, said that he hoped India will not be the “economic lifeline” to the “authoritarian” regime of Maduro by purchasing oil from the Latin American country.
The Latin American country’s Oil Minister and state-run oil company PDVSA’s President Manuel Quevedo told reporters in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh last month that his sanctions-hit country wants to sell more crude oil to India.
The US has slapped sweeping sanctions on PDVSA with a view to curb Venezuela’s crude exports and put pressure on socialist President Maduro to step down. Venezuela produces around 1.57 million barrels of oil per day, half of what it produced two decades back. With the US stopping imports from Venezuela, PDVSA is seeking to retain buyers in other big consuming countries such as China and India.
Maduro is facing a challenge from opposition leader Juan Guaido who declared himself acting president in January. The US views Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader and has imposed sanctions on the country’s oil sector besides taking other actions targeting top government officials.