India-US 2+2 talks: Iran sanctions, trade to top agenda

By: | Published: September 6, 2018 5:07 AM

India and the US will discuss trade-related issues and sanctions on Iran as foreign and defence ministers of both the countries meet in New Delhi on Thursday.

india, us, 2+2 meeting, sushma swaraj, mike pompeoExternal affairs minister Sushma Swaraj receiving US secretary of state Michael Richard Pompeo in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Photo: Premnath Pandey)

Besides the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), industrial security pact for private companies to share classified data and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), India and the US will discuss trade-related issues and sanctions on Iran as foreign and defence ministers of both the countries meet in New Delhi on Thursday.

Highly-placed sources told FE, “The Indo-US relationship, which is a global strategic partnership, has got impetus under the Trump administration due to convergence. During the last few months, there were several rounds of meetings between the two countries at various levels. The 2+2 dialogue is an acknowledgment of India being an independent country, and the US is giving support to India’s role in the world.”

Besides regular bilateral issues, topics related to defence contracts, immigration and terrorism will be on the table when US secretary of defence James Mattis and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo talk with foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sithraman.

“The 2+2 dialogues are the highest level of political engagement and are being viewed as critical to set the tone and tenure of the relationship given recent geopolitical movements in the region,” sources told FE. This will now become an annual dialogue.

According to source cited above, “Issues related to trade and Iran sanctions will be discussed on Thursday. US sanctions on Iran will have a major global impact. The US has been told during various meetings that India is dependent on energy, almost 24% oil is being imported from Iran and that some of India’s refineries are dependent on certain kind of oil.”

The issue of Chabhahar Port in Iran, which is sub set of the issue as it allows humanitarian and development activities in Afghanistan, will also be discussed. “The Chabahar Port has a major role. It is not simply a port which is financed by India. Afghanistan will also make a case on the port that it should be exempted from sanctions,” source said.

On the estimated Rs 40,000-crore deal to buy the sophisticated, long-range S-400 Triumf advanced air defence missile system from Russia, sources said “it is not normal to discuss our relations with other countries.” The US sanctions under the CAATSA mandate similar action against those who conduct transactions with banned Russian oligarchs and defence firms.

Given Indian Navy’s preference for Lockheed Martin-manufactured MH-60R helicopters, India and the US could clinch the deal worth $2 billion, sources in the Ministry of Defence said. Interestingly, renowned aerospace scientist Vivek Lall, who was instrumental in defence deals worth over $12 billion between the two countries in the past decade, is now with Lockheed Martin.

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