Washington: The US on Tuesday said it would exempt India and six other countries from financial sanctions because they have significantly cut purchases of Iranian oil.

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"Today I have made the determination that seven economies—India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan--have all significantly reduced their volume of crude oil purchases from Iran," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement.

Clinton said exemptions would also be granted to South Korea, Turkey, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Taiwan, which join Japan and a number of European countries already on the list of those exempted from Iran sanctions act that kicks into force later this month.

Clinton issued the statement in this regard hours before External Affairs Minister S M Krishna was to arrive in Washington to co-chair the third India-US Strategic Dialogue along with his American counterpart.

In her statement, Clinton said as a result of her determination, she will report to the Congress that relevant sanctions will not apply to financial institutions of these countries.

"We have implemented these sanctions to support our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and to encourage Iran to comply with its international obligations," she said.

"Today's announcement underscores the success of our sanctions implementation. By reducing Iran's oil sales, we are sending a decisive message to Iran’s leaders:  until they take concrete actions to satisfy the concerns of the international community, they will continue to face increasing isolation and pressure," Clinton said.

The US remains committed to a dual-track policy that offers Iran the chance to engage seriously with the international community to resolve our concerns over its nuclear programme through negotiations with the P5+1, she said.

"Iran has the ability to address these concerns by taking concrete steps during the next round of talks in Moscow. I urge its leaders to do so," Clinton said.

India downplays US's decision

Meanwhile, India on Tuesday sought to downplay the United States's decision, saying it was a "decision taken by the Obama Administration under its domestic law."

"We have seen the US notification exempting Indian financial institutions from the application of the provisions of US domestic law for energy-related transactions with Iranian Central Bank and other financial institutions designated by US Government.

"This is a decision taken by the US Government under its domestic law," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, said.

"India and the US have a growing strategic partnership. The India-US Strategic Dialogue on June 13 will once again demonstrate the strength of our relationship and the extraordinary breadth of our bilateral cooperation, based on our shared values and convergent interests," Akbaruddin said.

India's official comment on Clinton's announcement earlier in the day was in line with what New Delhi has maintained throughout, that India does not believe in unilateral sanctions but it strictly abides and complies by multilateral sanctions like those by the UN Security Council.

Sources familiar with the discussions between the two countries on the issue acknowledged this was never a major issue between the two countries, and they were expecting that the waiver, even though not sought, would come before the strategic dialogue.


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