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US, India working towards reducing dependence on Iranian oil

February 10, 2012 14:23 IST

The US is working with countries, including India to reduce their dependence on Iranian oil, a top official has said, noting it understands the energy needs of New Delhi and its long-standing ties with Tehran.

"In the context of the legislation that the (US) President signed on December 29th, we are working with countries around the world, including India, that maintain strong oil relationships with Iran, encouraging all of them to reduce their dependence on Iranian crude," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

This was an issue of discussion when the Indian Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai, met US officials at the State Department, she said.

"That was an opportunity to continue conversations that we had started in Delhi about how India might be able to wean itself from Iranian oil," Nuland said adding that those conversations continues.

"We're having similar conversations with countries in Asia, in Europe, in other parts of the world," she said.

India, she noted, has had a trading relationship and oil relationship with Iran.

"What we are saying to all of our allies and partners around the world is that we are encouraging everybody to buy less Iranian crude, as little as possible, to find alternatives sources of supply, in the context of the economic squeeze that all of us are trying to put on Iran, to encourage Iran to come clean with the international community about its nuclear weapons program," Nuland said.

The US is not going to grade "individual countries" Nuland said when asked if India is doing enough.

"We have said a number of times that, in the context of this 180-day period, while we're working with countries, as the legislation stipulates, we're not going to be giving individual countries a grade," she said.

"We're simply talking to you about the general message that we're giving to everybody. In each case, the circumstances are quite specific, in terms of the relationships countries have with Iran, in terms of their energy needs, in terms of where and how they might find alternative sources of supply.

"So we're working with each country on an individual basis. But we're not going to be grading them as we go along," she said.

India and other countries as well, she noted, shares the goal of getting Iran to wake up, to come back to the table and come clean about its programme.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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