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India under pressure to cut oil imports from Iran: Hillary Clinton

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said countries like India were being pressurised to reduce their oil imports from Iran to make Tehran change its nuclear policy.

BT Online Bureau | May 7, 2012 | Updated 13:47 IST

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday said countries like India were being pressurised to reduce their oil imports from Iran to make Tehran change its nuclear policy.

Iranian crude oil accounts for about 12 per cent of India's current oil imports, the second largest supplier after Saudi Arabia.

"We knew that Iran's continuing development of nuclear programme would be very destabilising for the region because there would be an arms race in the region. It would also cause a great threat to Israel. Our goal was to persuade Iran to change its policy because it was already under international sanctions violating international obligations of UN Security Council and international atomic energy," said Clinton, who began a three-day trip in India on Sunday from Kolkata.

"It was a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and it has not complied with all the obligations it had to. So we started putting together (the) international coalition and passed strong sanctions at the Security Council. The pressure has brought Iran back to the international table. The first meeting was in Istanbul," said Clinton addressing a gathering at the La Martiniere school.

Clinton maintained that oil rich countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia can meet the energy demands of India and other countries.

"We think it is part of India's role in the international community. It is not just that the US is asking and doing, it's the international community asking and doing."

"We do not believe that Iran would have come to the table if it was not sanctioned and pressured. We do not believe that Iran will peacefully resolve this if there was no pressure. The reason why India, China, European countries, Japan have been asked to reduce their oil imports from Iran in order to keep the pressure on Iranm," Clinton added.

When asked whether the Iran issue is currently the main road block in the way of Indo-US relations, Clinton said: "Well it has moved and we are encouraged by seeing what Indian government has been able to do. We appreciate what has been done. We believe there is adequate supply to meet their energy requirements."

However, Clinton remained tightlipped about the 'sanctions waiver' that New Delhi is hoping for, saying "it is too early to make any comment on that".

The US, in March this year, had served a notice to India and 11 other major importers of Iranian oil by stating that a decision on imposing financial sanctions on them would depend on the progress in cutting down supplies from Tehran.

With IANS inputs

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