India may soon get a fresh waiver from the sanctions imposed on doing business with Iran, the US indicated on Friday while noting that India has made ‘tremendous progress’ in reducing imports of oil from the Persian nation.
"I think India has made tremendous progress in reducing the level of its importation of Iranian oil.
India has long been a leader in non-proliferation, stood side by side with all of us in the international community to say that Iran should not acquire a nuclear weapon," US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told reporters in New Delhi.
"That decision will be made shortly and all of the data is certainly pointing in a positive direction," she said when asked whether the US could grant a fresh waiver to India to conduct business with Iran.
Her indication of a third waiver comes against the backdrop of India's moves to reduce Iranian crude purchases to less than 13 million tonnes in the current financial year from 18.1 million tonnes last fiscal.
"We greatly appreciate all of the leadership that India has provided including their imposition of sanctions," Sherman said.
India along with some other countries like China and Japan have cut their oil imports from Iran to secure waivers.
This enables them to continue imports of oil to some quantity without facing a backlash from the US.
The sanctions imposed by the US on Iran in view of its controversial nuclear programme prohibit any country to engage them in the field of commerce.
Asked whether India is expected to play a larger role in Afghanistan after US forces withdraw next year, Sherman said, "I think India is a crucial and key player in the future of security and development of Afghanistan both bilaterally and regionally."
She noted that India has already made investments in Afghanistan including in Iron ore and in many ways, providing capabilities and technical assistance.
"India has also been a leader in the new silk route and the heart of Asia process and anything that happens in this region of the world, it is going to be positive if India is engaged," the US Under Secretary said.
Sherman, who held talks with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, is in New Delhi to prepare for the Strategic Dialogue next month when Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to New Delhi.
Talking about the upcoming Dialogue, she said the US is looking forward to furthering the relationship in many things.
"He (Kerry) is very much looking forward to that, we have been working at all levels through both of our governments on a number of projects dealing with global economic, global strategic security, energy, climate change, people to people (contact), regional cooperation.
"It is really extraordinary, the depth and breadth of the India-US relationship and we look forward to furthering that relationship through this strategic dialogue in many things that we do together," Sherman said.
She said the US hopes to welcome Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "at some point in the near future because this is a strong powerful relationship not only in the region but in the world".
Asked about the possibility of granting further access to key Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives and 2008 Mumbai attacks accused David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, Sherman said that negotiations are on and both the governments will work through this.
". . .as you know, prior to the conviction recently of Mr Headley, there had been access and we do understand that there is request for more and I know that it's the Home Land Security dialogue which has just completed in Washington that is the channel along with Department of Justice to resolve this request and I am sure both our governments will work through this," she said.