New Delhi: US President Donald Trump turned down India’s invite to be the chief guest at the Republic Day on January 26 likely over the latter’s S-400 missile defence system deal with Russia and oil imports from Iran despite the United States sanctions. Donald Trump’s decision was conveyed by the US authorities to NSA Ajit Doval, sources said. Another reason to turn down the invitation was Trump’s domestic commitments — State of the Union (SOTU) address around that time.
India had officially sent an invite to Donald Trump in April this year. While the authorities confirmed receiving the invite, they said that the final decision was taken after 2+2 dialogue which happened in September. It should, however, be noted that the US and India ties have lately been under a lot of strain since the latter signed a defence deal with Russia.
While earlier the United States had asserted that the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA was not aimed at imposing damage to the military capabilities of its ‘allies or partners’, Donald Trump later said that India will soon find out if CAATSA sanctions will apply to the country after its S-400 defense deal with Russia.
Refusing to comment any further, US state department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that it isn’t helpful when the US hears about S-400 deals and oil imports. “The President had addressed it, he was asked whether or not India would buy oil from Iran after sanctions are reimposed. And President said, ‘we’ll take care of that.’…And he (US President) said India is going to find out. And India will find out. We’ll see,” she said.
Nauert’s statement came hours after Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said that the United States sanctions will not be a hindrance in signing more defence deals with India in near future. Kudashev also said that New Delhi and Moscow could soon sign agreements on frigates and Kalashnikov assault rifles in “two-three months”.
“In the coming months, you can expect more deals. Talks are on, this is the normal process. We hope that within two-three months… We could soon have a deal on frigates, it is very much on the agenda of the two sides, and we could soon have a deal on the Kalashnikov assault rifles,” the Russian Ambassador to India said.
Disregarding the warnings of the United States sanctions, India had on October 6 signed a deal with Russia to acquire the $5-billion S-400 air defence missile system. The intentions were clear as India and Russia concluded a deal for the supply of S-400 Triumf long-range surface-to-air missile system giving a substantial boost to air defence capabilities of the Indian Air Force.