India says it will cut Iran oil purchases by 11%

India said on Tuesday it would cut purchases of Iranian oil by 11 per cent following pressure from the United States to join a drive to isolate the Islamic republic over its disputed nuclear programme.

Indian refiners expect to import 15.5 million metric tons of crude from Iran in the fiscal year that began April 1, the country's junior oil minister told parliament in a written reply, down from 17.44 million tons last year.

The announcement comes after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week urged New Delhi to cut crude imports from Tehran ahead of the implementation in June of a Washington-backed plan slapping sanctions on nations buying Iranian oil.

"To reduce its dependence on any particular region of the world, India has been consciously trying to diversify its sources of crude oil imports to strengthen the country's energy security," junior oil minister R.P.N. Singh said.

The size of imports from various sources depends on technical, commercial and other considerations, Singh added.

It was not immediately known whether the move by India would be enough avert US sanctions.

But during her visit to India, Clinton praised New Delhi for its efforts towards cutting imports, while India's foreign minister S.M. Krishna said "this issue is not a source of discord between our two countries."

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