India and China have been Iran’s major customers. And India’s appetite for oil will increase 3.2 percent this year, according to the International Energy Agency.
Until recently, Iran had been India’s No. 2 supplier, after Saudi Arabia, some 350,000 barrels a day last year, or almost 10 percent of its annual oil needs. But this year India’s refineries cut back on their purchases of oil from Iran, and by 2013 India’s imports from Iran are expected to drop to 7 percent of its needs.
“India has reduced its dependence on Iranian oil,” Clinton said Tuesday during a CNN interview. “I know their refineries have stopped asking for orders to purchase Iranian oil, so they certainly have taken steps.”
She also pointed out that her energy coordinator, Ambassador Carlos Pascual, was coming to India to offer suggestions for alternative sources of oil.
But Clinton later took it a step further, showing that she understood the price of the sanctions for India’s leaders.
“If you’re an Indian politician or an Indian business owner or an Indian citizen who is desperate to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and get them electricity and, you know, keep the lights on, this is a hard decision for them, because they have been historically looking to Iran for a significant percentage of their oil,” she told a National Public Radio interviewer.
Her statement took me back 50 years to one of the first things I learned from Sen. J.W. Fulbright (D-Ark.), then the renowned chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“If you don’t understand the domestic problems of the country you are dealing with, you cannot have a successful foreign policy,” Fulbright told me. Every country’s foreign policy, including that of the United States, is rooted in its domestic policies, he said.
Clinton arrived in India after spending the previous week in China, having participated in the wide-ranging Strategic and Economic Dialogue as well as negotiating over the case of Chen Guangcheng, a blind, legal activist.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Clinton discussed the gains created during the past three years through “personal relationships and understanding between [Chinese] individuals and our government institutions that are absolutely critical for us to be able to discuss the full range of challenges we both face.”
She expanded on an earlier statement in China about finding a way for an “established power,” meaning the United States, to coexist with “a rising power,” China.
“The United States is going to remain a power, the predominant power economically, politically, militarily, for a long time to come,” she said. “We recognize that China is a rising power. There will not always be a convergence of our interests or even our perceptions about what is happening in the world. So how we manage this relationship is absolutely critical to peace, security, prosperity, individual freedoms — you name it.”