Hillary lauds India for reducing reliance on Iran



Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday lauded the steps taken by India to reduce its dependence on Iranian oil saying that New Delhi has put itself on the line to get Iran back to the negotiating table.

"They have put themselves on the line to get Iran back into the P-5+1," Clinton told a radio channel in an interview when asked of India's role in the Iran issue.

On being asked if India has any sort of role to play in passing messages to Iran, Clinton said "Absolutely", adding New Delhi has an important role in conveying the message of the international community and its concerns to Iran.

"We know they have. I mean, we've asked them to; they have been conveying their concern about Iran's behavior," she said.

"They just had Iranian agents try to kill an Israeli diplomat, kind of reminiscent of what we've discovered when Iranians were trying to kill the ambassador from Saudi Arabia to Washington. So they're investigating that crime," 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. They're making progress," Clinton said.

Expressing satisfaction over the progress made by India on reduction of import of Iranian oil, she said India has certainly made progress in reducing their imports of crude oil from Iran.

"We appreciate the steps that India has taken, and we're continuing to consult with them," Clinton told in another interview.

"Their refineries are cutting back. And they share our goal. And I'm convinced that Iran never would have come to the table for the serious negotiations that we are pursuing within the P-5+1 context had it not been for the tough sanctions," she said.

"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," Clinton said.

"If you're an Indian politician or an Indian business owner or an Indian citizen, who is desperate to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and get them electricity and keep the lights on, this is a hard decision for them because they have been historically looking to Iran for a significant percentage of their oil," Clinton said.

"So I always try to put myself in the other person's shoes and say okay, if we don't get oil from Iran, so it's no skin off our nose as Americans," Clinton added.

Clinton said that US wants everybody to come together and try to convince Iran to make the right decision.

Some countries in Europe that were very dependent upon Iranian oil have found substitutes, she said.

"Japan has made significant progress, and India is working toward that too, looking for affordable, reliable supplies," Clinton said.

"But you have to understand where other countries are coming from, and the point that I have made, not just to the Indians but to many other countries, is the United States is leading an international effort to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon or prevent its potential nuclear weaponisation from being the cause of conflict, which would be really bad for anybody who gets any oil from the Middle East," Clinton said.

"So you have to balance all of that. And it's a calculus that countries make, kind of like people," she added.

Clinton is dispatching her senior aide to India next week for talks with Indian officials on the Iranian issues and help it reduce its dependence.

"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 in India with a team of experts," Clinton said.

PTI