Clinton arrives in India for talks centred on Iran oil issue


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) arrives at the airport in Kolkata on May 6, 2012. Clinton landed in India with hopes of reinvigorating a relationship seen as losing steam despite efforts to bring the world's two largest democracies closer.


Shannon Stapleton

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in India for two days of talks with Indian officials.

Voice of America reports that Clinton will use the visit to push India's government to reduce its dependence on oil imported from sanctions-hit Iran.

Her three-day trip coincides with a visit by a large Iranian trade delegation, according to Reuters, which describes India as "walking a tightrope" as it attempts to strengthen ties with the US and meet its fast-growing energy needs. India imports around 70% of its oil, about 9% of which comes from Iran.

More from GlobalPost: White House says oil market is stable enough to squeeze Iran

A senior official traveling with Clinton is quoted by The Hindu as saying that India had already increased its oil imports from Saudi Arabia and that the US was hopeful that India would continue to look for other alternatives.

"The trend lines are good, but we really need to receive assurances that they (India) are going to continue to make good progress,” the official said.

The Washington Post says that India, along with China, South Korea, Turkey and South Africa could face US sanctions by the end of June if they do not make significant cuts in imports.  A dozen European nations and Japan have already been spared from those sanctions, the newspaper says, which were introduced as part of a law to encourage Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions by squeezing its petroleum industry.

More from GlobalPost: Iran sanctions - The real impact

Clinton landed in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata this morning, after what AFP describes as a "tense" visit to China overshadowed by the Chen Guangcheng crisis and a stop in Bangladesh where she urged the country's polarized politicians to unite and work together towards development.

She will tour Kolkata's monuments and meet citizens before traveling to New Delhi tomorrow to meet India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

At a press conference ahead of the visit, the Newsroom America transcript shows Clinton said: "I think it’s like any relationship. There’s progress in some areas that we are very heartened by, and there’s more work to be done, but that’s the commitment that we make when we say to another country, 'We want to be your partner'.”