Resisting U.S. pressure to further scale down oil imports from sanction-hit Iran, India on Tuesday made it clear that it has to look at the issue involved beyond the energy trade as it has “vital” security stakes in the Gulf region.

After talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during which she asked India to restrict its trade and energy ties with Tehran, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said, “I conveyed our vital stakes in peace and stability in the Persian Gulf and wider West Asian region, given the six million Indians who live there and the region’s importance to our economy.”

Ms. Clinton, who is here on her last leg of three-nation Asia tour, has been pressing India to “do more” to scale down its oil imports from Iran to keep pressure on Tehran to meet international demands on its disputed nuclear programme.

Addressing a joint press interaction, Mr. Krishna said, “Iran is a key country for our energy needs but we have to look at the Iran issue beyond the issue of energy trade. In the first place, we have to see security and stability in the Gulf region, India has vital stakes in Gulf region....

“It is one of the critical destinations for our external trade,” he said, while noting that India’s exports to that region was about $100 billion and oil imports stood at 60 percent.

India has been asking Tehran to abide by its international obligations as non-nuclear weapons state under the Non-Proliferation Treaty but has maintained that it has a right to pursue nuclear activities for peaceful purposes.

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