NEW YORK – India’s top two importers of crude oil from Iran will reduce shipments from the Islamic Republic by at least 15 per cent this financial year in compliance with US efforts to shut-down Iran oil trade despite public pronouncement from India that they will continue to buy from Tehran, a major US newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The government has asked state-owned Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. and Essar Oil Ltd., a private company, to cut their imports in the year through March 2013 due to demands from the US, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing two unnamed sources.

‘Definitely, there is a lot of pressure from the US’, one of the people was quoted as saying. A spokesman for India‘s Oil Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the Journal said.

The Obama administration made a renewed push late last year to strangle Iran’s oil trade in a bid to get Tehran to give up its nuclear programme. Tehran says the programme is for peaceful purposes, the newspaper noted. The European Union at the start of the year agreed to ban all oil imports from Iran from July 1st.

Other Asian importers such as China, Japan and South Korea also have trimmed imports in the first quarter of 2012.

India agreed with Iran in February to pay for almost half of its oil imports from Tehran in Indian rupees as a way to get around US sanctions that made getting hold of the US dollar for transactions near impossible.

And in March an Indian trade group visited Iran to drum up business for Indian exports.

Iran is looking at ways of buying more goods from India, which it can pay for with the rupees it gets from selling its oil.