NEW DELHI – The United States and India on Tuesday called for Pakistan to do more to stop terrorism and pledged to keep up pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.
However, the two countries remained divided over the future of India's large oil imports from Iran, which the U.S. wants to see drastically reduced to put pressure on Tehran to negotiate over its nuclear program.
"We don't believe Iran would be back at the negotiating table unless there had been the unrelenting pressure of international sanctions. And this pressure must stay on if we want to see progress toward a peaceful resolution," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a press conference in the Indian capital.
About 9 percent of India's oil imports come from Iran, and though it has reduced those imports recently, it could still face U.S. sanctions next month if Washington determines it has not done enough under a law aimed at pressuring Iran to prove its nuclear program is peaceful.
India's foreign minister, S.M. Krishna, said Iran must live up to its obligations to remain free of nuclear weapons, but said it remains "a key country for our energy needs."
"It remains an important source of oil for us although its share of our imports is declining," he said, adding that discussions on the issue between the U.S. and India would continue.
India and Iran reached an agreement earlier this year to find a way around international sanctions that make it difficult to pay for the oil. Under the agreement, India would pay for about 45 percent of the purchases in rupees and Iran would use the Indian currency to buy goods from India.
Clinton said the U.S. was working with Indian refineries to find alternative sources of oil and would send an expert team here next week to continue that work.
Clinton and Krishna met Tuesday morning to discuss a wide range of issues, from the future of Afghanistan to plans for easing U.S. companies' entry into India's civil nuclear energy market.
Krishna called for stronger Pakistani action to fight terrorism and bring to justice Pakistan-based militants blamed for the 2008 attack in the Indian financial center of Mumbai. That attack killed 166 people, including six Americans.
Clinton agreed that Islamabad needs to do more to crack down on terrorists on its soil.
Pakistan "needs to make sure that its territory is not used as a launching pad for terrorist attacks anywhere, including inside Pakistan," she said.
The U.S. has shown its own commitment to fighting Pakistan-based terror, she said, by offering a $10 million bounty for extremist Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who has been accused of orchestrating the Mumbai attacks.
Clinton also called for a reduction in Indian market barriers, a move that could lead to further growth in a trading relationship expected to exceed $100 billion this year.
"We should be working toward having one of the world's largest trading relationships," she said.