New Delhi, India: Iran’s Foreign Minister on Tuesday held talks with his Indian counterpart after New Delhi stopped purchases of Iranian oil in wake of renewed U.S. sanctions.

Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is in India to hold talks with his Indian counterpart in New Delhi, Sushma Swaraj.

The talks are being held amid US-Iran heat, which is only increasing ever since the Trump administration put up “renewed” U.S. sanctions on the table.

India was Iran’s top oil client after China, but halted imports after Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran and later withdrew waivers to eight nations, including India, which had allowed them to import some Iranian oil.

“India is one of our most important partners, economic, political and regional,” Zarif told Reuters’ partner ANI on Monday ahead of talks with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.

“We have regular consultations with India on various issues and I’m here to have consultations with my counterpart on most recent developments in the region as well as our bilateral relations,” he added.

The Trump administration’s goal is to block Iran’s oil exports.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Nuclear Deal that was signed by his predecessor Barack Obama. The deal is an accord between Iran and six world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme.

“Unfortunately the United States has been escalating the situation unnecessarily. We do not seek escalation but we have always defended ourselves,” Zarif said.

The sanctions have more than halved Iran’s oil exports to 1 million barrels per day (bpd) or less, from a peak of 2.8 million bpd last year. Exports could drop to as low as 500,000 bpd from May, said an Iranian official this month.

Iran is insisting on exporting at least 1.5 million bpd of oil as a condition for staying in an international nuclear deal, sources with knowledge of Iran-EU talks said on Monday.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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