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Reuters – Sri Lanka ‘completely reliant on Iranian oil’

As the European Union agreed to broaden sanctions imposed on Iran, latest figures have revealed Turkey, South Africa and Sri Lanka rely most heavily on Iranian oil as a percentage of their imports.

Sri Lanka, which imported 39,000 barrels per day in the first half of 2011, is “completely reliant” on Iranian oil, reported Reuters.

In response to the threat of an oil embargo, in which case Iran would lose big customers such as Italy, Greece and Spain, the International Director of the National Iranian Oil Co, M. Qamsari commented last week,

"We could very easily replace these customers.”

Iran and Sri Lanka have been strengthening ties within the last few years, with about $120 million worth of annual trade between the two countries. Iran has also provided $1.5 billion dollars to fund several projects across the island, as well as giving a low-interest credit which enabled Sri Lanka to purchase military hardware.

In 2005, just weeks after the tsunami struck the island, Iran also supplied $150 million dollars worth of weaponry to Sri Lanka. The exchange prompted a stern warning from the US in 2007, where a leaked embassy cable revealed US representatives having said,

"any arms purchases from Iran would be illegal under a UN resolution 1747 and will have serious negative consequences for US Sri Lanka relations."

Iran was Sri lanka's highest donor in 2008 and even offered to share its much scrutinised nuclear technology with the country.

After a UN Panel was appointed to investigate allegations of war crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s assault on the Vanni, Iran came to Sri Lanka's defence, denouncing the UN. Sri Lankan Minister Wimal Weerawansa expressed appreciation for the support, commenting,

“Iran has never let us down, even when many other countries in the world refused to back us. The county as a whole is very grateful for this brotherly treatment.”

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