U.S. working with South Korea to reduce the purchase of Iranian oil

| March 10, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged today that pressure on countries like South Korea to increase its sanctions and reduce its dependence on Iranian oil are difficult, but added that progress has been made.

At a meeting in Washington today with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, Secretary of State acknowledged “the hard choices and even sacrifices we ask other countries to increase pressure on Iran” over its nuclear program.

Countries like South Korea and Japan, heavily dependent on foreign oil, have already imposed sanctions on Iran in coordination with the U.S., although they could request more time to reduce its dependence on Iranian oil.

The four largest customers of Iranian oil in the world are China, India, Japan and South Korea.

10 percent of South Korean oil imports from Iran, and Seoul should announce a reduction of this dependence in late June, as long as supply reduction achieved with other providers.

Clinton announced agreements on how it will proceed with this reduction, but said there has been progress and “is working with the Republic of Korea (official name of South Korea) on alternatives to Iranian oil.”

Clinton and Kim also spoke of holding meetings with Japan to determine the next steps after Pyongyang announced a moratorium on its nuclear development and missile last month.

Secretary of State reiterated that the step taken by the new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is “modest” and that North Korea will judge “for his actions,” while evaluating a possible resumption of talks six-party North Korean nuclear program, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.

Kim said, in turn, Seoul is hoping for a sincere implementation of the North Korean promises that in exchange for concessions on its nuclear development expects U.S. food aid.

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