US Secretary of State Pompeo to discuss ways to strengthen strategic, trade ties with India

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on June 24, 2019 Published on June 24, 2019

Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, USA   -  REUTERS

Will meet PM, Minister of External Affairs and National Security Advisor

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will discuss ways to strengthen strategic and trade relationship with India in a series of meetings lined up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, in his three-day visit beginning Tuesday.

“Pompeo is scheduled to have three bilaterals, one each with PM Modi, Jaishankar and Doval. The meetings will focus on addressing current irritants in Indo-US relationships including trade issues and India’s relationship with Iran and Russia, so that bilateral ties can be further strengthened,” an official told BusinessLine. Pompeo will also deliver an address at US Embassy on Wednesday.

India-US trade ties are strained at the moment with the Trump regime deciding earlier this month to withdraw the Generalised System of Preferences scheme for exporters offering duty-free entry to over 3,000 Indian items. Two weeks later, India decided to finally implement the retaliatory tariffs on 28 items imported from the US as a quid pro quo for the unilateral tariffs imposed by the US on Indian steel and aluminium last year.

To add to the tension, the US announced its plans to tighten H1-B visa rules further and while the State Department clarified that it is not targeted against any specific country, there is a lot of apprehension amongst the Indian IT industry about it.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently described India as a high-tariff market and urged the Modi government to carry out reforms that will open up the Indian economy and market. The US Commerce Department has been specifically making a case for lowering of restrictions on import of dairy products and loosening price control on medical devices.

“All the unresolved trade issues will definitely be discussed by the two sides as bilateral relations can’t improve without addressing these problems,” the official said. The US is especially interested in improving ties with India as its relationship with China has been worsening and it wants New Delhi not to warm up to its neighbour, the official added.

Strategic issues, which have a bearing not only on India’s diplomatic ties but also affect the country’s economy, such as its relationship with Iran and Russia are also likely to be discussed in details.

“India has so far gone by US sanctions against Iran and has stopped purchasing oil from the country. But, in the absence of equally viable alternatives, it will hurt India to continue ignoring Iran. This matter is likely to be discussed by Pompeo and Jaishankar. Pompeo is also expected to try and persuade India to stop dealing with Russia and abandon the deal to purchase the S-400 missiles as well,” the official said.

Published on June 24, 2019
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