New Delhi: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in New Delhi late on Tuesday. In the first high-level engagement between India and the US after the NDA’s return to power, he would be meeting External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday when issues relating to oil imports from Iran and the S-400 missile deal with Russia are expected to come up.
This is Pompeo’s second visit to India. He was here last year for 2+2 dialogue between Defence and Foreign ministers of the two countries.
The visit also comes days ahead of PM Modi’s meeting with US President Donald Trump in Japan on the sidelines of the 14th G20 summit and the 2nd JAI trilateral (Japan, America and India). The first JAI trilateral was held between Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, Trump and PM Modi in Argentina in December 2018.
On Wednesday, the main day of engagement, Pompeo will meet PM Modi at 10 AM followed by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at noon. He will also be making an “India policy speech” in the evening.
Sources said there was no structured agenda and New Delhi is expected to urge for de-escalation of tensions between Washington and Iran. Pompeo’s three-day visit comes amid rising tensions between the US and Iran over fresh sanctions imposed on Tehran, an issue which will be discussed between the two sides. Following fresh US sanctions, many Indian oil companies have reportedly stopped importing oil from Iran.
Calling the visit an important one, Jaishankar said in Gandhinagar on Tuesday, “We have a very positive approach for the meeting.” On the ongoing crisis in the Gulf due to US-Iran tensions, he said, “We have a relationship with Iran and we have a relationship with the US….we will be guided by our national interest and that will be the yardstick of judgement.”
India is concerned by the situation in the Gulf, especially because of its large diaspora in the west Asian region. The Indian government has a strong and legitimate interest in maintaining stability and peace in the region and believes both Washington and Tehran should de-escalate and refrain from any action that can destabilise the region.
Along with trade, H1B visa, data localization or use and storage of data of Indian citizens, S-400 deal with Russia are the other contentious issues.
On S-400 deal, India has made it clear that it has long-standing defence relationship with Moscow which cannot “be wished away” and a deal has been in discussion with Russia for a decade. New Delhi believes Trump administration has enough flexibility to give waiver under the American CAATSA law which imposes sanction on countries engaging in defence ties with Russia.
India this month imposed higher tariffs on 28 US products including almonds, apples and walnuts, following the US withdrawal of trade privileges for India. Last year, India had announced tariffs in retaliation to higher U.S. import duties on steel and aluminium. (With inputs from Sidhant Sibal)