During her recent visit to Kolkata, India, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that India and the United States share what she called “bedrock beliefs: beliefs about freedom, democracy, pluralism and opportunity.”
At an interactive meeting at a school for girls, she answered questions on a variety of topics, including the reason why the United States is urging India to reduce its dependence on oil imports from Iran.
Secretary Clinton explained that pressure is required to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, a goal that the United States, India and other U.S. partners share. Iran with a nuclear weapon, she said, would be extremely destabilizing to the region. It would spur a nuclear arms race; it would exacerbate existing enmity between Iran and other nations in the region; and it would present a grave threat to Israel.
She noted that after President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the U.S put together an international coalition that imposed the strongest economic sanctions to date on Iran. The pressure from those sanctions, said Secretary Clinton, brought Iran back to the negotiating table -- last month for the first time in Istanbul; and a second meeting is scheduled to take place in Baghdad on May 23.
The reason for asking countries like India, who are primary purchasers of Iran oil, to reduce their supplies of Iranian crude is to keep pressure on Iran, Secretary of State Clinton said. “We think India, as a country that understands the importance of trying to use diplomacy to resolve these difficult threats, is certainly working toward lowering their purchases of Iranian oil. And we commend the steps that they have taken thus far.”
Secretary Clinton noted that Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other suppliers are now putting more oil into the market, making oil available for India and others countries that require it.
“We’re encouraged by what we’ve seen the Indian Government being able to do,” said Secretary of State Clinton. “We want to keep the pressure on Iran.”