Washington to engage New Delhi with a high-level meeting via Pompeo

On Friday, a senior official of the US State Department said that the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be visiting India next week. This visit is an attempt to clear the increasing resistance with New Delhi over multiple issues including trade, data flow, arms from Russia, oil imports from Iran and also focus on strategic ties between the two big world democracies.

“While in New Delhi, Secretary Pompeo is slated to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who’s really one of the visionaries behind the expansion of the US-India Strategic Partnership,” the senior official added.

Pompeo’s arrival in New Delhi for talks is aimed towards setting up the peripherals for an upcoming meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, later in the week at a G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.

India is currently engaged in disputes with the United States over tariffs, hence trade is obviously going to be a major topic of discussion in his meetings.

“We want both of our nations to thrive. I’m certain that the Secretary will convey during his visit the extraordinary potential to realize the collective strength of our economies if there’s a fair and reciprocal approach to the trade relationship,” said the senior official.

“Indians have contributed under the H-1B program to the US economy, and I think the Secretary will be able to assure the Indian leadership that we have no plans to place caps on H-1B work visas for nations that are having foreign companies store data locally,” the official noted.

“With respect to S-400, we’re urging all of our allies and partners, India included, foregoing transactions with Russia that risk triggering the CAATSA sanctions. I think this is the time where we will be encouraging India to look at alternatives (S-400),” the official added.

A major discussion on Iran sanctions is expected to top the table during the visit, along with India’s concerns on energy security, the official said.

“We’ve engaged with the Indians in a conversation as to how to preserve an exemption for the Chabahar Port, which allows India to continue essential humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan as well as to provide Afghanistan with economic alternatives. So I expect Iran will be on the agenda, but again, this is an area where we’ve succeeded in working well with India,” the official concluded.

The official finally noted that both the US and India are gearing up for the first ever tri-service military exercise with India in the Bay of Bengal later this year to increase the force interoperability followed by another 2+2 dialogue.

Pompeo will visit India from June 25-27, the first high-level engagement between India and the United States after NDA’s return to power for a second term.

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