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India can’t sacrifice economic strength to comply with US sanctions: Sitharaman

India wants to comply with global sanctions, including US sanctions on Venezuela and Russia, but also needs to maintain its strength and strategic interests, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in an interview on Tuesday.

The US in January forced the most robust penalties yet on Venezuela’s oil production. The move has scared away some global customers, but with few alternative suppliers of heavy oil, Indian refiner Reliance Industries Ltd has been buying Venezuelan crude from Russian major Rosneft.

The company is set to resume direct oil loadings in the South American nation after a four-month pause.

Sitharaman said the Indian government has expressed its view to the United States.

“In particular points which are important for India’s imperative interests, we have demonstrated to the United States that India is a strategic partner for the USA and you want a strategic associate to be reliable and not impaired,” she said.

“We value the strong partnership with the United States Of America, but we should equally be allowed to be a strong economy.”

The International Monetary Fund earlier on Tuesday lowered its outlook for Indian growth in 2019, citing weaker-than-expected domestic demand. The US-China trade conflict will cut 2019 global increase to its most moderate pace since the 2008/09 economic crisis, the IMF said.

India’s gross domestic product grew at its weakest pace since 2013 between April and June, stoking expectations of further stimulus.

“Global headwinds … are getting stronger by the day,” Sitharaman said. Asked about further fiscal stimulus, she said: “I have not closed the door” on that.

New Delhi has been trying to boost domestic growth through an infrastructure package and a new loan program organized with the banking sector that has doled out loans worth over 80,000 crore (8.7 billion pounds), she said.

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