India says it has decided to cut imports of Iranian crude oil by 11 percent, following pressure from the United States to isolate the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.
India's minister of state for petroleum, R.P.N. Singh, said Tuesday that Indian refiners now plan to import 15.5 million metric tons of crude oil from Iran this fiscal year, down from 17.44 million tons the year before.
Singh said India was "consciously trying to diversify its sources of crude oil imports to strengthen the country's energy security." He said refiners base their imports on "technical, commercial and other considerations."
Tuesday's announcement came after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged India to reduce Iranian oil imports during her visit to the South Asian country last week.
The United States has asked several countries to curb oil imports from Iran by the end of June or face sanctions. The U.S. so far has granted exemptions to Japan and the European Union.
The U.S. and other western nations say Iran is enriching uranium to build nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.
India imports about 80 percent of its crude oil. At least 10 percent of its imports are from Iran.
India's announcement that it will cut Iranian oil imports coincides with a visit by U.S. special energy envoy Carlos Pascual, who held talks Tuesday with his Indian counterparts.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.