Washington: India is looking at Saudi Arabia and Iraq to diversify its global oil purchase, as New Delhi is making progress in reducing its dependence on Iranian oil, a top Obama Administration official has told US lawmakers.

"In the Indian case, they've actually had a long-term policy to source more from Saudi Arabia. This has been going on for several years. So you'll see the percentage from Saudi Arabia has been growing rapidly," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing on South Asia on Wednesday.

"A more recent important source for them is Iraq, which itself has been increasing its own production. And so that also has become quite an important source for India," Blake said responding to a question from Congressman Gerald Connolly during a Congressional hearing convened by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Sub Committee on the Middle East and South Asia.

"What is the sense of progress we're making in helping the Indians to lessen their reliance on Iran as a source of fuel?" the Congressman asked.

Blake said India is making this progress in reducing its dependence on Iranian oil.

"To be clear, India is making this progress not because of our own bilateral urgings but I think they're making progress because they say that this is because of financial and commercial considerations. Most of the Indian companies that have been working in Iran are pulling out for their own reasons - looking at market considerations. That's certainly a welcome development from our perspective," he said.

"So we've had a good dialogue on this, and again, we welcome the progress. And that percentage is steadily going down, even as India's energy needs are growing quite substantially," he said.

Responding to another question from Congressman Chabot Steve Chabot, Chairman of the sub-committee, Blake referred to the recent remarks of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wherein she appeared to have expressed satisfaction over the progress made by India in reducing its dependence on Iranian oil.

"When Secretary Clinton was in India last week she welcomed the progress that India is making and she noted that both the United States and India both share the same goal, which is to prevent Iran to acquiring nuclear weapons.  So India has been really terrific in their support in four different votes in the IAEA on this subject," he said.

"Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh has said publicly many times that it is not in India's interest to have another nuclear weapon state in the region. So I think we're in pretty good convergence on this," he said.

"We continue to urge India to make progress in continuing to reduce its imports of oil from Iran, as we do with all of our other partners. And as the Secretary said, there's progress but we need to see continued progress from them and other countries," Blake added.


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