"Can't Wish Away" Russia Defence Ties, Say Sources Before Pompeo Visit

Elias Hubbard
June 25, 2019

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo is likely to discuss Huawei's participation in India's 5G trials with the government today as he arrived in the country for his first first high-level engagement with Modi-led NDA regime after Lok Sabha elections. "I do hope, and remain open - and we remain open to dialogue, and hope that our friends in India will drop their trade barriers and trust in the competitiveness of their own companies, their own businesses, their own people, and private sector companies", he said in Washington before leaving for India, The Indian Express reported.

For Pompeo, the visit is an opportunity "to press the Modi government on its continued ties to Iran and Russian Federation", said Richard Rossow, who holds the Wadhwani Chair in U.S. -India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Nevertheless, the Indian official maintained that Pompeo's visit is not "outcome-oriented". "This will have to be a combination of legal and the political stand of the US government, keeping in mind US-India ties", a person familiar with the matter said.

Under US pressure India has stopped buying oil from Iran, one of its top suppliers and the two Indian officials said the oil-dependent economy had taken a hit, as a result.

Diplomatic sources in India say all issues are on the table, and there is no structured agenda for the discussions, in which Foreign Minister S Jaishankar will host a working lunch for Mr Pompeo.

The Indian side is clear that the meeting on Wednesday is more about "getting to know each other", especially since Pompeo and Jaishankar have never met before.

The Indian side also remains engaged with the American side on Afghanistan, sources said.

The source said the issue of high tariffs was "misunderstood" as every country puts tariffs on different items and India's tariff policy was in line with other developing countries.

United States officials have recently indicated that the threat of slapping sanctions through the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanction Act (CAATSA) still looms on India.

"But the administration must also demonstrate a predictable, coherent, and consistent strategy that strengthens the US-India cooperation, especially in areas where our interests and values align". And while India has continued to seek a renewal of the waiver, Trump's threats of additional sanctions and the escalating tensions in the Strait of Hormuz after Iran shot down a USA spy drone will make that issue a hard one to broach this week.

Officials aware of the matter said that India and the USA will further strengthen their defence ties in the context of the situation in the Indo-Pacific and the Gulf regions. A number of hardware items are also in the process, including 10 P8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, six more Apache-64 attack helicopters and the possible purchase of multi-role fighters from the U.S., the officials said.

Stating that India was deeply interested in "regional stability", diplomatic sources said that India has been conveying to both sides the need to "de-escalate" from the current state of heightened confrontation.

US President Donald Trump displays an executive order imposing fresh sanctions on Iran in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, June 24, 2019.

India wasn't ready to make a call on whether to allow Huawei Technologies Co.to participate in the country's rollout of 5G telecommunications networks.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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