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Iranian oil, Afghanistan top agenda for U.S.-India talks
The United States wants India to end its dependence on Iranian oil and train Afghan security forces as the U.S. seeks to deepen its relationship with a nation it considers a linchpin of its new defense strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.
India’s oil imports have been a source of frustration in Washington as the U.S. pressures Iran to dissuade it from developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes.
“They have cast some very difficult and very important votes in the [International Atomic Energy Agency] on tightening sanctions, have publicly committed that they do not want to see Iran get access to a nuclear weapon, and have significantly decreased their oil importation from Iran. Those efforts should be applauded.”
Indian officials say that their country has made significant cuts to its imports but that it is unrealistic to expect a total reduction overnight. In 2008-09, the percentage of India’s crude oil imports that came from Iran was 16.42 percent. By 2011-12, that number dropped to 10.29 percent.
Besides India, 11 countries, including China, South Korea and Turkey, face U.S. scrutiny over imports of Iranian oil. The sanctions will go into effect June 28 unless the Obama administration gives a waiver to countries that have shown an intent to significantly cut these imports.
The dialogue is based on five pillars: strategic cooperation; energy and climate change; education and development; economics, trade and agriculture; and science and technology, health and innovation.
“Any discussion of our strategic ties must begin with Afghanistan,” Robert Blake, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, told an audience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Thursday.
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About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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