U.S. Deputy NSA’s message to Delhi was not a warning, clarifies White House

He had constructive conversation, says official

Published - April 09, 2022 10:03 am IST

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. File.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. File. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

After U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh’s visit to New Delhi last week left the government of India indignant over remarks around U.S. sanctions on Russia and their implication for oil purchases, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki clarified Mr. Singh’s message and said that no “warning” was delivered.

Mr. Singh had said that there would be “consequences to countries that actively attempt to circumvent or backfill the sanctions” while in New Delhi.

“I wouldn’t characterise it as a warning nor did we at the time,” she said at Friday’s press briefing in response to a question on whether the “warning” to India about increasing Russian oil purchases was also being conveyed to other countries.

“He went and had a constructive conversation and made clear that while it’s the decision of each individual country, including India, to determine whether they’re going to import Russian oil,” Ms. Psaki said, adding that only 1-2% of India’s oil imports came from Russia, while about 10% came from the U.S.

“And so he conveyed, of course, they should abide by sanctions, which are not related to that decision, but also, we would be here to help them diversify and move towards even reducing further beyond the 1 to 2%.“

Ms. Psaki’s comments on Friday appeared to be a toned-down version of her remarks on Monday, when she said, “What Daleep did make clear to his counterparts during this visit was that we don’t believe it’s in India’s interest to accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy and other commodities.”

Confirming that India had bought Russian oil at discounted prices, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had told business leaders last week that the country’s interests came first, and that if fuel was available at discounted prices, India would buy it.

The wide-ranging implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and India and the U.S.’s response to the situation, are expected to feature prominently next week when External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visit Washington for the April 11 “2+2” dialogue with their American counterparts, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

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