CORRECTED-U.S. "not impressed" with India's efforts to cut Iran oil buys: envoy

Last Updated: Tue, May 15, 2012 05:30 hrs

(Corrects the envoy's quote in paragraph 2)

NEW DELHI, May 15 (Reuters) - A top U.S. energy diplomat on Tuesday said he was "not too impressed" with India's efforts to cut its imports of oil from Western sanctions-hit Iran.

"We are not too impressed today," Carlos Pascual, the State Department's special envoy for international energy issues, said when asked by Reuters how likely India was to get a waiver from U.S. financial sanctions.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaned on India last week to cut its imports of Iranian oil further, and said Washington may not make a decision on whether to exempt New Delhi from financial sanctions for another two months.

Clinton, who was on a three-day visit to India, said the United States was encouraged by the steps its ally had taken to reduce its reliance on Iranian oil, but that "even more" was needed.

As Tehran's second-biggest crude customer, India is crucial to U.S. efforts to squeeze Iran's economy until it agrees to curb its nuclear programme, which the United States and other Western nations suspect is a cover to build atomic weapons.

The issue has become an irritant in ties between India and the United States. (Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; editing by Malini Menon)

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