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Threat of US curbs on Iran oil imports still looms over Delhi
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
The Damocles sword is still hanging on India. The US today gave no firm assurance to India that the proposed American sanctions will not apply to it for oil purchases from Iran even as New Delhi stated that the Iranian issue was not a source of discord between the two countries.

Continuing to resist American pressure over the matter, India also made it clear that it would abide only by UN Security Council sanctions against Iran and not those imposed by individual countries.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did, however, commend India for the steps its refineries were taking to reduce imports from Iran, adding she hoped to see continuing progress in the matter. “We have also been consulting with India and working with them in some areas on alternative sources of supply,’’ she said at a joint press interaction with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna here.

Clinton said US Energy Coordinator Carlos Pascual would be in India with an expert team next week to continue discussions, indicating that Washington continued to nudge India to further slash oil imports from Iran.

In March, the US announced sanctions which threaten to shut out importers of Iranian oil from the U.S. financial system unless they make significant and continuing cuts to their purchases by the end of June. Japan and 10 European Union nations have been granted exemption while India and China remain at risk.

Krishna explained to Clinton that Iran remained an important source of oil for India although India’s imports from the Islamic Republic were declining. “Ultimately, it reflects the decision that refineries make based on commercial, financial and technical considerations.’’

He went on to add that India was dependent on imports to meet bulk of its energy requirement. India’s imports were growing on an average by about 10 million tonnes annually. “Given our growing demand, it is natural for us to try and diversify our sources of imports of oil and gas to meet the objective or energy security.’’

Do more to check terror, Pak told

Describing JuD chief Hafiz Saeed as one of the principal architects of the Mumbai massacre, the US n Tuesday asked Pakistan to do more to ensure that its territory was not used as ‘launchpad’ for terrorist attacks.





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