Ja­pan asks U.S. to en­sure sanc­tions don’t hurt Iran trade

Tehran Times - - POLITICS -

Ja­pan’s Fi­nance Min­is­ter Taro Aso has pressed his U.S. coun­ter­part Steven Mnuchin to en­sure Ja­panese firms are not hurt by Wash­ing­ton’s sanc­tions on Iran, Ky­odo news agency re­ported Fri­day.

The two men met in Bali, In­done­sia, on the side­lines of a gath­er­ing of fi­nance lead­ers from the Group of 20 ma­jor economies, which Mnuchin used to pro­mote U.S. sanc­tions snap­ping back against Iran’s oil sec­tor in about three weeks.

The Ja­panese min­is­ter told a press con­fer­ence he had re­layed to Mnuchin his “hope that Ja­pan’s con­cerns are ad­dressed.”

Ja­panese of­fi­cials have said Iran’s oil is “ex­tremely im­por­tant” to their coun­try’s en­ergy se­cu­rity. Min­is­ter of Econ­omy, Trade and In­dus­try (METI) Hiroshige Seko said last month Ja­pan “in­tends to have talks with the U.S. tena­ciously in or­der to con­tinue Ira­nian crude oil im­ports.”

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has pledged to bring Iran’s oil im­ports down to zero. On Thurs­day, he said the U.S. “will take care” of coun­tries which defy the di­rec­tive.

“We will take care of them,” Trump told re­porters when asked about the de­ci­sion of some coun­tries like In­dia and China to con­tinue to pur­chase oil from Iran.

In­dian Oil Min­is­ter Dhar­men­dra Prad­han on Mon­day said that two state re­fin­ers have placed or­ders for im­port­ing crude oil from Iran in Novem­ber.

Data re­leased by traders and ship­ping in­tel­li­gence firm Kpler showed re­cently that In­dian buy­ers had lifted pur­chases of Ira­nian crude to 502,000 bar­rels per day (bpd) last month, up 111,000 bpd over Au­gust.

On the other hand, In­dia’s pur­chases of U.S. crude oil fell by 75 per­cent over the past four months, the data in­di­cated.

The firm said China had also in­creased ship­ments from the Mid­dle East­ern coun­try by 29,000 bpd to 620,000 bpd, while cut­ting its U.S. pur­chases amid an on­go­ing trade spat with the United States.

U.S. and In­dia were to re­sume high-stakes ne­go­ti­a­tions Fri­day over the U.S. re­quest for In­dia to slash its Ira­nian oil im­ports, re­ports said.

Brian Hook, head of the U.S. State Depart­ment’s Iran ac­tion group, and Fran­cis Fan­non, as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for en­ergy re­sources, were to travel to In­dia and later hold talks on Iran in Europe with EU coun­ter­parts and the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency.

Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo has said since July that the govern­ment would con­sider re­quests for sanc­tions relief from a “hand­ful of coun­tries”.

On Tues­day, the U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion marked its first re­treat on the planned sanc­tions, al­low­ing a gas­field partly owned by the Is­lamic Repub­lic in the North Sea to keep op­er­at­ing.

The Rhum field north­east of Aberdeen, which sup­plies around 5 per­cent of Bri­tain’s gas de­mand, has now re­ceived a new op­er­a­tion li­cense from the U.S. Trea­sury, UK-listed pro­ducer Ser­ica En­ergy said.

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