India's oil trade with Venezuela has gone down since sanctions: Ambassador

New Delhi, Feb 5 (PTI) India's oil trade with Venezuela has gone down since sanctions were imposed on the Latin American country, its Ambassador to India Augusto Montiel said on Tuesday. Montiel, while speaking to reporters on the current situation in Venzuela, said the country is currently selling 400,000 barrels of oil per day to India. "Earlier, it used to be around 500,000 barrels per day to India. We sell oil to Indian companies and we bring crude oil for many refineries and we are trying to produce more oil to satisfy India's oil needs but the US government is trying to cripple Venezuela's oil industry and economy," he said. In response to a question, he said, "Yes, the oil trade between India and Venezuela has gone down since imposition of sanctions on Venezuela." Venezuela has been battling hyperinflation, power cuts and severe shortages of basic items such as food and medicine. The US has imposed tough sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's regime. The Trump administration is blocking assets in the US owned or controlled by Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Reacting to it, Montiel rued that all the accounts of Venezuela that were in dollars have been seized by the US government. "We cannot transfer dollars. All our accounts from Venezuela since two years have been closed. That is criminal, they are stealing Venezuela's money," he said. To a question on the mechanism of payment with India, Montiel said it is in Indian rupees. "We have excellent relationship with Indian companies. India will continue its arrangement with Venezuela and Iran that is an account in rupees so the payment can be invested in Indian resources and Indian products," he said. He also alleged that the US wants to create in Venezuela conditions similar to what it had created in Iraq and Libya. He said Mexico and Uruguay will organise an international conference on Thursday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. "Around 30 countries will come together to deal with the ongoing crisis," he said, without naming the countries. He also alleged that the Western media is portraying a "wrong picture" of the situation in Venezuela. "People support the government and have been on the streets to show their support for President Maduro but that is not being showed to you because they want to portray a wrong picture," he added. PTI UZM ABMABM