India-US Ties: Top US official to address issues related to Iran, Russia and trade matters

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Published: June 4, 2019 7:46:06 PM

Wide range of issues including the sanctions on Iran and Russia, the withdrawal of the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) trade status will be the focus of talks when the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits India later this month.

Also, the second 2+2 Indo-US Dialogue is scheduled for this year and the US official is likely to discuss this too.

Wide range of issues including the sanctions on Iran and Russia, the withdrawal of the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) trade status will be the focus of talks when the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits India later this month.

While the Ministry of External Affairs has not announced any dates for the visit, the US State Department Spokesperson last week had told media persons in that country that Pompeo will have “robust discussion’’ when he visits India.

According to sources, the visit could also be related to the forthcoming meeting between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. The G-20 summit is from June 28-29.

The top US official is expected to meet with the new external affairs minister S Jaishankar and address India’s concerns related to critical issues including the oil import from Iran and Venezuela and arms import from Russia.

Also, the second 2+2 Indo-US Dialogue is scheduled for this year and the US official is likely to discuss this too.

Besides the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw GSP given to India almost three decades ago, the Indo-US trade relations have been under strain. There has been no headway at the end of several rounds of talks between the two countries for a Comprehensive Trade Agreement.

Last month, former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had said that a decision to import oil from Iran will be taken after the elections. However, the US Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, has stated very clearly recently that the US will impose sanctions without any exception on the imports from Iran.

Also, last week, the US has said that it would bring sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), against India, if it goes ahead with its purchase of the S-400 Triumf missile shield from Russia.

As has been reported earlier by Financial Express Online, in 2018, $ 5.5 million deal was inked when the leaders of both countries Prime Minister Modi and the Russian President Vladmir Putin met for the annual summit.

Later this month Modi will be meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping at the SCO summit in Bishkek on June 13-14 and the US President Donal Trump at the G-20 summit.

A source has said that this issue is expected to come up for discussions when Modi meets Putin on the sidelines of SCO meeting later this month.

Pompeo had visited India in September last year for the first 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. At a high-level meeting of former defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and external affairs minister Swaraj with Pompeo and then Defence Secretary Jim Mattis had discussed military sales as well as strengthening strategic relations between the two countries.

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