Pompeo, Mattis talk bolstering Indian ties despite tensions

Pauline Gross
September 7, 2018

The major takeaways of the inaugural 2+2 dialogue between the two nations were the signing of the long-pending Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and setting up of a hotline between External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister with their American counterparts.

The world's two largest democracies have drawn closer in recent years, seeking ways to counterbalance China's spreading influence across Asia, notably in Pakistan, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.

They agreed to hold a tri-services exercise next year between their forces, increase information-sharing on terrorists and upgrade interaction between the Indian military and the United States military's Central Command that deals with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Iran is India's third largest oil supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. "India is going to buy more energy products and aircraft from the USA", he said. The two countries also announced their readiness to begin negotiations on an industrial Security Annex (ISA) that would support closer defence industry.

India had hesitated to conclude the agreement partly out of worries about the United States getting access to Indian military communications. Both moves would violate USA sanctions.

Indeed, India's defense minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, sounded ebullient about the prospects for further collaboration.

Pompeo, in his remarks, hailed the civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries as an important component of their strategic partnership.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday the United States was not seeking to punish India for its proposed purchase of a missile defense system from Russian Federation.

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But in realms apart from defense, the relationship has progressed more haltingly.

U.S. -India ties, she said, have reached "unprecedented heights".

Under current United States rules, third countries could face sanctions if they transact with Russian defence or intelligence sectors.

Thursday's meeting was supposed to be held in Washington but was postponed twice by the Trump administration.

In a sign of New Delhi's desire to keep buying Iranian oil, Reuters reported this week that India had allowed its state refiners to use Tehran's tanker and insurance cover after western and Indian shippers started winding down their Iran operations ahead of the November 4 deadline.

They avoided taking any questions from the media apparently in view of differences between the two sides over India's oil purchases from Iran and its defence relationship with Russian Federation. "We'll work with them, I'm sure, to find an outcome that makes sense".

Hindustan Times learns that contrary to what was expected, the issue of a possible visit by US President Donald Trump to India early next year was not taken up during the meeting but that PM Modi asked the visiting dignitaries to convey his greetings to their President.

However, a new defence bill proposes giving the United States president authority to grant waivers when national security interests are at stake. He said the text of the deal, while classified, was specially negotiated for India, with New Delhi refusing to sign the standard text that many other countries had.

Other reports by GizPress

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