India-Iran trade to continue despite bombing

Indian's commerce minister says he doesn't think Israel embassy bombing in Delhi is related to bilateral trade.

By REUTERS
February 15, 2012 13:23
1 minute read.
India police inspect car after embassy attack

India police inspect car after embassy attack_390. (photo credit: Reuters)

Trade between New Delhi and Tehran is unlikely to be affected by a recent bomb attack on Israeli targets in the Indian capital, Indian's commerce minister said on Wednesday, despite Israel's accusations and Western sanctions against Iran.

Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma was in Islamabad heading the first ministerial-level trade delegation to India's neighbor and rival Pakistan in decades and added that the investigation is ongoing.

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"I don't think that trade and these things are inter-related," he told Reuters. "The investigations are on, and those behind this serious attack will be brought to justice."

The comments echoed a similar statement made Tuesday by Indian Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, who said that he didn't think trade would be affected. Speaking during a visit to Israel, Nath told The Jerusalem Post that his country "in no uncertain words” condemns the embassy attack.

Israel accused arch-enemies Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of being behind twin bomb attacks that targeted Israeli embassy staff in India and Georgia on Monday. Tehran has denied involvement in the attacks, and India has been pointedly silent on Israel's accusation.

But the head of a trade association in India said he feared the bombing would undermine the country's determination to pursue trade with Iran as wary exporters back away from fresh deals.

"The attack and its political fallout have clearly vitiated the atmosphere. Traders who were already losing money due to payment defaults will be extremely wary of continuing their trade with buyers in Iran," Vijay Setia, the president of the All India Rice Exporters' Association, told Reuters.

India has not gone along with new financial sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union to punish Iran over its disputed nuclear program. Instead, New Delhi has come up with elaborate trade and barter arrangements to pay for oil supplies.

New Delhi has good relations with both Iran and Israel, and so the attack makes its diplomatic balancing act between the two countries all the more difficult, and has thrust the mounting tension between the Middle East rivals onto its doorstep.

Nadav Shemer contributed to this report.


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