New Delhi: India and
the US affirmed Tuesday that they were on the same page on
preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, though Tehran
remains a key supplier of oil to meet New Delhi's energy security
This view was shared by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and
India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna during their
bilateral meeting here and expressed at a joint press conference.
"The US and India share the same goal as far as to prevent Iran
from acquiring nuclear weapons. And India is a strong partner in
urging Iran to adhere to its international obligations," Clinton,
who is on a three-day visit to India, said after their talks.
Krishna, noting that he discussed the importance of a peaceful
settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue, said it must be based on
the position that Iran has its rights as a member of the nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
"But it must also abide by its obligations as a non-nuclear weapon
state under the NPT," he said, asserting that "this issue,
however, is not a source of discord" between India and the US.
Clinton said she looked at India as a partner in the increased
international effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear
The best way to achieve a diplomatic solution that the
international community seeks, she said, was to keep up the
pressure that brought Iran to the negotiating table.
"We believe that Iran will not be at the negotiating table, unless
there is unrelenting pressure of international sanctions. And the
pressure must stay on if we want to see progress on a peaceful
resolution," she said.
Krishna said: "India subscribes to and rigorously implements" the
UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear programme
He said India has "a strong interest in a peaceful and negotiated
settlement" of Iran's nuclear programme issues and noted that its
position "has been clear and remained consistent".
"Iran is a key country for our energy needs. But we have to look
at Iran issue beyond the issue of energy trade," Krishna said,
noting that he had conveyed India's "vital stakes in peace and
stability" in the Persian Gulf and wider West Asian region, given
that six million Indians live and work there.
India has over $100 billion in trade with that region, apart from
60 percent of its oil imports and a major source of foreign
remittances from there.
Pointing out that India's oil imports were growing on an average
of 10 million tonne annually, Krishna said India was dependent on
Iranian imports to meet its energy requirements.
"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 of energy security. Iran remains an important source of
oil for us, although its shares in our imports are declining is
well known," he said.
The declining oil imports from Iran, he added, reflected the
decision of the Indian refineries based on "commercial, financial
and technical" considerations.
The Indian minister said he had discussed the Indian "position and
objectives" on energy security with Clinton and that these
discussions will continue.
Clinton said she welcomed the progress India has made in reducing
its oil imports from Iran and expressed the hope that it will
continue to make the progress.
"We believe that if the international community eases the pressure
or wavers in its resolve, Iran will have less incentive to
negotiate or to take necessary action to address the international
community's concerns on its nuclear programme," she said.
"We commend India on the steps its refineries are taking to reduce
imports from Iran. We have also been consulting India and working
with it on some areas on alternative sources of oil. We have had a
good discussion on this issues. We will continue these
discussions, but there is no doubt India and the US have the same
goal," she added.