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* Sri Lanka blames US sanctions on Iran for country's energy woes
Thu, Dec 13, 2012, 11:57 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka today blamed the United States sanctions imposed on Iran for the energy crisis the country us facing.

Addressing a media briefing Wednesday the Minister said the sanctions imposed on Iran by the U.S. is preventing Sri Lanka from accepting Iranian funds for much needed development projects in the country and depriving the poor Sri Lankans of their rights to access electricity.

"U.S. sanctions against Iran are infringing on the basic rights of our people," the Minister has said at a discussion with Iranian and Russian ambassadors to Sri Lanka.

According to Ranawaka, nearly 1,000 rural electrification schemes which were funded by Iran had to be suspended.

Defending Iran's nuclear program the Minister has said that Iran has a right to proceed with its nuclear program with peaceful intentions to meet its domestic needs.

"Using nuclear power is not a new thing in the world. This is something that 45 other countries are also doing and is a right of Iran," the Minister has retorted.

"Although America has posed embargo on Iran, the people of Iran are still not divided. That is a good example for Sri Lankans," the Minister has pointed out.

The U.S. last week exempted nine countries including Sri Lanka from the sanctions on Iran for another six months but reportedly banks are reluctant to issue Letter of Credits for transactions with Teheran.

Earlier this year, the US and the European Union imposed sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sectors to force Iran to halt its nuclear program. The sanctions prevent other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.

Sri Lanka has faced a severe crisis in importing oil from other countries since the sole refinery in the country can process only Iranian crude.

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