WASHINGTON - India’s decision to continue importing Iranian oil is a slap on the face of the United States, which is galvanising the international community to isolate Tehran, according to a former US diplomat who was Bush Administration’s pointman on Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.“This is bitterly disappointing news for those who have championed a close relationship with India. And, it represents a real setback in the attempt by the last three American presidents to establish a close and strategic partnership with successive Indian governments,” former under secretary of state for political affairs Nicholas Burns wrote in an op-ed in current-affairs magazine ‘The Diplomat’ today. “India’s decision to walk out of step with the international community on Iran isn’t just a slap in the face for the US - it raises questions about its ability to lead,” said Burns.India, which relies on Iran for 12 per cent of its oil imports, has refused to scale it down.Only recently, Burns had written an op-ed in The Boston Globe arguing that the US should commit to an ambitious, long-term strategic partnership with India. “I remain convinced of its value to both countries and to the new global balance of power being created in this century,” he wrote. “With its unhelpfulness on Iran and stonewalling on implementation of the landmark US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, however, the Indian government is now actively impeding the construction of the strategic relationship it says it wants with the United States,” Burns said.Presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush have met India more than halfway in offering concrete and highly visible commitments on issues India cares about, he said, adding unfortunately India has made no corresponding gesture in return for the big vision that Obama and Bush have offered.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 21-Feb-2012 here.