The United States is sending a team of energy experts to help India reduce its dependence on Iranian oil, while acknowledging that New Delhi has cut back its oil imports from Tehran.
"We are working with them to help them in any way that we can offer technical assistance, and next week my energy coordinator, Ambassador Carlos Pascual, will be here in India with a team of experts," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview to CNN in New Delhi.
"Because we know that this is hard for India, just like it's been hard for some of the European countries that were very dependent upon Iranian oil, for Japan (US has) worked with them and offered suggestions about alternative sources of supply at an affordable cost," she added.
Noting that "India has reduced its dependence on Iranian oil (and) their refineries have stopped asking for orders to purchase Iranian oil," Clinton said: "So we appreciate the steps that India has taken, and we're continuing to consult with them."
Asked if it does not "place friends in a difficult situation", she said: "We want to keep the sanctions pressure on, which requires - yes - our friends, nations with whom we have great areas of agreement, to have to make some tough choices.
"India shares exactly our goal (to) prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons nation," Clinton said. "So everything in this high-stakes diplomacy that we're engaged in is an exercise in calculations,"
In another interview with National Public Radio (NPR), she said India has a role to play in passing a message to Iran to come back to the negotiating table.
"Absolutely. And we know they have. I mean, we've asked them to; they have been conveying their concern about Iran's behaviour," Clinton said.
"They have put themselves on the line to get Iran back into the P-5+1," she said: "They have made it very clear, publicly and privately, that Iran is not in any way entitled to a nuclear weapon."
"So they're very much on the same page we are and they are working through this very difficult issue regarding oil."