Trade, missile on agenda during Pompeo visit

Trade, missile on agenda during Pompeo visit

U.S. Secretary of State to have a busy day today with talks with Jaishankar and Doval, apart from a meeting with Modi

India will once again press its case for a waiver of U.S. sanctions on the $5.4-billion Russian S-400 Triumf anti-missile deal, but will discuss Washington’s concerns over the issue during talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday.

On a visit to Delhi to prepare for the Trump-Modi meeting this weekend, Mr. Pompeo landed on Tuesday evening ahead of meetings with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Wednesday, where he will also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr. Pompeo will start his day with full delegation meetings with Mr. Jaishankar followed by a press briefing. No MoUs or agreements are expected to be announced, though negotiations on two important agreements — the Industrial Security Annexe and the Geo-spatial cooperation agreement BECA — have made considerable progress. Mr. Pompeo will hold a closed-door interaction with Indian and American businesses to speak about the impasse over a trade deal and the U.S. withdrawal of India’s GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) status.

U.S. demands

In the evening, he will meet Mr. Modi before the latter leaves for Osaka, and also give a public address aimed at India’s youth. Mr. Pompeo will leave for Osaka early Thursday morning. While strategic relations and people-to-people ties are on the agenda during the main talks, trade issues between the two countries are expected to take centre stage, diplomatic sources said. In addition, the U.S.’s objections to the purchase of S-400, its sanctions on imports of oil from Iran and Venezuela as well as its new demand that India must not allow Chinese telecom major Huawei to participate in 5G network trials are like to come up for discussion.

The sources acknowledged that the U.S. had made its concerns over the S-400 deal and other issues known, and India fears becoming “collateral damage” of U.S. relations with other countries. In the past few weeks, senior U.S. diplomats and officials have suggested that if India goes ahead with S-400 deal, the U.S. will not offer India certain hi-technology platforms or hold back on F-21/F-35 sales as it had done with Turkey that has also bought the S-400.

“[The U.S.] must realise that we have defence ties with Russia which we cannot wish away,” a government official said. “If you look at it from a legal point of view, India fulfils the requirements for a CAATSA waiver,” the official said, referring to the U.S. law that bans military purchases from Russia, Iran and North Korea.

On the Huawei issue, Mr. Jaishankar is likely to tell Mr. Pompeo that the government will balance the national security implications of the Chinese firm with the demands of the local telecommunications market before deciding on 5G trials. Last week, China sought India to take an “unbiased decision.

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