The US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday met Xi Jinping, widely expected to be the next Chinese president. He emphasized on strong cooperative relationship with China however, could not force them to abide by the US sanctions on Iran’s oil industry. China has reiterated opposition of sanctions, calling them ineffective.
China’s vice foreign minister said that Iran is a major supplier of oil to China and he hopes that China’s oil imports won’t be affected, as it is imperative for their development. However, Beijing has called on Iran and IAEA to cooperate over a new uranium enrichment plant.
China wants to maintain relationship with USA, but taking care of its vital interests. The talks also touched on trade issues and complaints about China keeping its Yuan undervalued, and thus gaining undue advantage on exports. Industry analysts say that even if China agreed, it would be formidable for it to replace Iran as an oil source.
On Thursday Geithner visited Japan and the country agreed to reduce the import of Iranian oil. Japan said their import of oil from Iran has been reduced over the years, and currently stands at 10%. They are planning to take concrete steps to further cut down this percentage. Japan has said that nuclear issue cannot be ignored by the world and that they fully understand US sanctions on Iran. It is believed that Japan’s move is an effort to protect their banks from sanctions.
EU decided in the beginning of the month to levy an oil embargo, however, numerous details remain unresolved. Europe is collectively the second biggest destination of Iranian oil consumer after China. The countries most dependent on Iranian oil, like Greece, Italy and Spain, want to delay the imposition of the embargo till they find alternative oil suppliers.
Indian oil ministry has denied asking the companies to cut imports from Iran, however added that India is looking for alternative supplies. India imports approximately 12% of its oil needs from Iran. India has been struggling to pay for Iranian crude due to previous sanctions on trading with Iran. India has been making payments through Turkey’s Hallbank, a mechanism the officials believe will be cut off under the new US sanctions. An Indian delegation will visit Tehran to explore alternative payment methods and to ensure supplies without breaching sanctions.