Iraq has come forward to offer "substantial quantities" of crude oil to Sri Lanka, as the island desperately looks for alternatives to Iranian crude, according to a news report.
Iran supplies nearly 92 percent of Sri Lanka's imported crude. But supplies have hit a snag in the face of US-led sanctions aimed at spurring Tehran to abandon its nuclear programme.
The Colombo-based Sunday Times newspaper quoted Petroleum Ministry officials saying that Sri Lanka would stop crude oil imports from Iran from March 29, ahead of the US June 28th deadline.
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Any country importing goods from Iran after would be subject to US penalties.
Sri Lanka's refinery, built with Italian technology in 1968, can handle Iranian or Saudi light crude and talks were underway to get more Saudi oil, as well as increase refined petroleum product imports from Iraq and Oman.
India has said it will continue to import oil from Iran, joining China in refusing to bow to intensifying US pressure not to do business with the Islamic republic.
The West fears Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb.
Tehran insists its nuclear programme is only for civilian use and refuses to scrap its uranium enrichment activities, ramping up its programme in the wake of recent Western economic sanctions against its finance and oil sectors.