‘India taking steps in right direction on Iran’

Both India and China, two major buyers of Iranian oil accounting for 12 and 22 per cent of its total export respectively.

Washington: The US appeared to express
satisfaction with the steps being taken by India to reduce its
dependence on Iranian oil even as Washington said it was
having "very intense and very blunt" conversations with New
Delhi, China and Turkey to bolster American sanctions against
Tehran over its nuclear programme.

"With respect to India, they are making steps that are
heading in the right direction. In fact, I think in a number
of instances, the actions of countries and their banks are
better than the public statements that we sometimes hear them
making," Hillary told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing.
Hillary said China, which is another major country being
pushed by the US to reduce its dependence on Iranian oil, too
has made progress.

"I think that we have made progress, not enough in
my view. With respect to China, they have actually worked with
us to prevent certain businesses within China from continuing
their trade. They have reached out to the Saudis and others to
determine ways to make up their loss of oil, if they cut what
they receive from Iran," Hillary said.

"So we`re having very candid conversations with a number
of countries, two of whom you named, to try to impress on them
our seriousness about enforcing sanctions which will have very
difficult consequences for them," Hillary said in response to
a question from Congresswoman Nita Lowey from New York.

A day earlier, testifying before another Congressional
committee, Hillary said the US is having "very intense and
very blunt" conversations with India, China and Turkey on
reducing their dependence on Iranian oil.

"With respect to China and Turkey and India, we`ve had
very intense and very blunt conversations with each of
those countries. I think that there are a number of steps that
we are pointing out to them that we believe they can and
should make," Hillary said responding to questions from
Senator Robert Menendez.

The top US diplomat said in a number of cases, "both on
their government side and on their business side", they are
taking actions that go further and deeper than perhaps their
public statements might lead you to believe.

“We are going to continue to keep an absolute foot on the
pedal in terms of our accelerated, aggressive outreach
to them. And they are looking for ways to make up the lost
revenues, the lost crude oil," Hillary underlined.

Both India and China, two major buyers of Iranian oil
accounting for 12 and 22 per cent of its total export
respectively, have said they will continue to import fuel from
Tehran despite the EU and US embargo. Turkey has also said it
will continue to import oil from Iran.

She agreed that it was difficulty for these countries.
"So we`ve had to put together an entire team to try to
assist them in thinking through ways of doing that, Clinton
said responding to a question from Menendez.

She said the American "expectation and the direction" is
to "see significant reductions".

"You know, for some countries, it`s a lot harder
than other countries. So we have really come in with a lot of
suggestions to help them be able to do what we`re asking them
to do," said Hillary.

Testifying before the State, Foreign Operations and
Related Programs Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations
Committee, Hillary yesterday told Senators the US is
aggressively pursuing sanctions against Iran.

"We are implementing the new Iran sanctions aggressively.
The President issued an executive order on February 6 that
blocks assets under US jurisdiction of all Iranian banks; also
makes it clear that both the Departments of Treasury and State
are expected to enforce the sanctions absolutely," she said.

Hillary said the US has been sending high-level teams
from Treasury, Energy and State department to explain the
sanctions to counterparts around the world.

"We`re very frank in these discussions about the
requirements of US law. We have seen a lot of action. A broad
range of countries are making decisions to reduce their
dependence on Iranian crude, unwind their dealings with the
central bank of Iran," the Secretary of State said.

She said the US was pushing very hard to make it clear to
them that Washington will help countries that have a
significant dependence on Iranian crude to try to find

"It is something that they have to look for. They can`t
just stop cold Turkey and not have anything fueling their
economies," Hillary said.

"Some of our friends who are major producers have set
forth their willingness to try to make up the difference. So
we`ve had a positive reaction," the top US diplomat said and
referred to the steps being taken by the European Union and


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