Clinton urges India to cut Iranian oil
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a plea to energy-starved India on Monday to reduce its Iranian oil imports, as Washington struggles to get Asia’s economic powerhouses on board with its sanctions.
A US ban on Iranian oil is due to come into force at the end of June, with countries potentially facing sanctions if they continue to trade with the Islamic republic.
New Delhi has been hesitant to back the ban and is planning to trade in currencies other than dollars, therefore avoiding US sanctions.
Clinton told a town hall meeting in the eastern city of Kolkata that there’s an adequate supply in the market for India to find alternative sources of oil.
She noted India has taken some steps to reduce its imports from Iran, but said the US wants to see more.
“If there weren’t an adequate supply… we would understand, but we believe that there is adequate supply,” she said.
India, with an economic growth rate of about 7 percent, has an insatiable need for oil. About 9 percent of its oil imports are from Iran, though officials say it has reduced its dependency on Iranian oil in recent months.
“We appreciate what has been done and, of course, we want to keep the pressure on Iran,” Clinton said.
India remains dependent on the imports, and Iran is its second largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia.
India and Iran reached an agreement earlier this year that would allow India to pay for about 45 percent of the purchases in rupees.
Tehran would then use the Indian currency to buy goods from Delhi.
Clinton said the US remained focused on putting global pressure on Iran.
“We believe, at this moment in time, the principle threat is a nuclear-armed Iran,” she said. “We need India to be part of the international effort.”
Clinton will head to Delhi later Monday, where she is expected to press India to push ahead with an economic program that would open the way to US conglomerates such as Walmart entering the fragile market.
The prime minister’s chief economic adviser said last month that no new reforms were likely before the next election in 2014.
No comments yet.