India to act as watchdog over developing Syria crisis: Khurshid

New Delhi, Sept 3 (ANI): External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday said New Delhi would keep a close watch on the developing crisis in Syria, as there was a possibility of a potential U.S. military strike.

"The situation in Syria is very critical. We are keeping a close watch. We are in touch with our mission there. We have lines of credit and various investments that obviously will come under question if there is a war-like situation in Syria. But all we can do today is to keep a watch. There isn't much we can do directly, but we are keeping a watch, keeping ourselves informed and at least life will not be danger if anything was to happen," he said.

U.S President Barack Obama had declared that the United States, which has five cruise-missile equipped destroyers in the region, was in the planning process for a 'limited, narrow' military action against Syria that would not involve boots on the ground or be open-ended.

Meanwhile, a 20-member team of the United Nations, including experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, had been into the rebel-held areas in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus thrice, taking blood and tissue samples from victims.

The UN experts have already been testing for sarin, mustard gas or other toxic agents.

Final results might not be ready for two weeks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Security Council members, according to diplomats.

The United States released its own unclassified intelligence report on the attack, which the United States secretary of state John Kerry said killed 1,429 Syrian civilians and was clearly the work of Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Commenting over the U.S. sanctions imposed last year, Khurshid said the UN sanctions more significant to India.

"We don't subscribe to the US sanctions. We will subscribe to the UN sanctions. We were party to the UN sanctions. We were party to the resolution and we voted for it. It is the UN sanctions that apply to us," Khurshid added.

India has sharply cut oil imports from Iran since U.S. sanctions were imposed last year, and believes it has some headroom to import more without angering Washington.

U.S. and EU sanctions placed on Iran over its nuclear programme have reduced its oil exports more than half from pre-sanction levels of about 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd).

The U.S. and European Union sanctions have pushed Tehran into accepting payment in rupees for some of its oil, and higher volumes could support the Indian currency.

In the first seven months of this year, India's imports from Iran have declined 46 percent from the same period last year to about 185,700 bpd, a trade data showed. (ANI)


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