India taking steps in right direction on Iran sanction:Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Washington, Feb 29: 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," Clinton told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing.

Clinton 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," Clinton 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," Clinton said in response to a question from Congresswoman Nita Lowey from New York.

A day earlier, testifying before another congressional committee, Clinton 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," Clinton 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," Clinton 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 Clinton.

Testifying before the state, foreign operations and related programs subcommittee of the Senate appropriations committee, Clinton on Tuesday 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.


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