US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today pressed India to do "even more" to cut its oil imports from sanctions-hit Iran to keep pressure on Tehran to meet international demands on its disputed nuclear programme.
Clinton, whose trip to India coincided with the arrival of a large Iranian trade delegation to New Delhi, however lauded the steps taken by this country so far in lowering purchases of Iranian oil. The delegation is seeking commercial opportunities in India to mitigate the impact of US sanctions.
"India understands results of its policies.. Is certainly working towards lowering purchases of Iranian oil. We commend the steps they have taken thus far," she told an interactive session held at the La Martiniere School for Girls in Kolkata on the second day of her three-day visit to India.
"We cannot accept that that they have taken it that far. We hope they will do even more and we think there is an adequate supply in the market place as Saudi Arabia, Iraq. We think this is part of India's role in the international community," Clinton said ahead of her meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Iran is India's second largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia.
Clinton's remarks came when she was asked why the US wants India to reduce oil imports from Iran when India is not an oil producing nation.
The Iran Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the Persian state is confident it will solve its own difficulties in the wake of the global pressure sought to be put on other countries to stop oil imports.
"You(India) need oil and we need to sell and we need good cooperation....We will solve all difficulties. I think everything will be solved," Yahya Ale-Eshagh, President of Iran Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in New Delhi.
The US has been urging India and other countries to slash oil imports from Iran aimed at stepping up pressure on Tehran to comply with international demands over its nuclear programme.
"We believe, at this moment in time, the principal threat is a nuclear-armed Iran," she said. "We need India to be part of the international effort."