`Progress of talks between US, Iran will augur well for India`

India is happy with the prospect of direct talks between the US and Iran over Tehran`s controversial nuclear programme as progress on the issue will augur well for the country`s energy security.

On Board PM`s Special Aircraft: India is happy with the prospect of direct talks between the US and Iran over Tehran`s controversial nuclear programme as progress on the issue will augur well for the country`s energy security.

Sources said India has been saying for two years that there should be direct talks to resolve the issue over Iran`s nuclear programme.

It is believed that there has been a great deal of progress in back-channel talks between the two countries, the sources on board Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s special aircraft told reporters.

Progress of talks between the US and Iran will augur well for India for which Iran is not only a major source of energy but also a transit route for access to Afghanistan.

US President Barack Obama has responded positively to the diplomatic overtures shown by his newly elected Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and directed Secretary of State John Kerry to pursue a new round of talks with Tehran over its nuclear programme.

The US, which has spearheaded an international drive to cut Iran`s oil exports, has insisted it will not lift sanctions without progress in talks over nuclear programme, which America fears may lead to development of atomic weapons, a charge that Iran denies.

India has slashed import of crude oil from Iran by over 26.5 per cent in the financial year ended March 31 as US and European sanctions made it difficult to ship oil from the Persian Gulf nation.

India imported about 13.3 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran in 2012-13 fiscal, down from 18.1 million tonnes shipped in the previous financial year.

PTI