Pompeo visit is key before G20 summit
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo landed in Delhi on Tuesday night for his bilateral meetings with his counterpart External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday. According to sources, it is a "getting to know each other" kind of meeting, but the two would meet just ahead of the summit level meeting between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan on July 28.
This is the first highlevel engagement of the new Modi government with the Trump administration and comes at a time when both the countries have a number of issues to iron out. Diplomatic sources said there is no "structured agenda" for the talks between Pompeo and Jaishankar, and the entire spectrum of the relationship will be on the table.
The biggest area of concern for India is how to deal with US sanctions against Iran and Russia. Diplomatic sources say India will convey to America that it stands firm on its $5 billion S-400 air-defence missile deal with Russia despite the threat of US invoking the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
"We have a long-standing defence relationship with Russia which we cannot wish away," said the source. "The US is well aware of and appreciative of our requirements. Legislation is very clear on issues such as under what circumstances can a waiver be given under CAATSA. The US administration has enough flexibility to give a waiver to India on CAATSAA sanctions on purchase of S-400 air defence system," added the source.
The two sides are going to focus on various aspects of ties from the sphere of economic, trade, defence, terrorism and security. But there would be no signing of agreements or deals during this visit, India Today has learnt.
The meeting comes a day after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order placing Iran and its leadership under harsher sanctions. While India has for now stopped its order for oil from Tehran, diplomatic sources maintain that oil imports are "commercial" decisions for the companies involved.
They will have to make a decision if they want to continue or not. It seems like Indian companies themselves do not want to imports from Iran as it affects their relations with all other players.
Ahead of his meeting with Pompeo, Jaishankar on Tuesday said India will meet the US Secretary of State "with a positive attitude" to find "common ground" to resolve trade issues. "Trade issues will be discussed. We will try to find common ground. We will be meeting with a positive attitude", said Jaishankar.