The United States will discuss New Delhi’s purchase of Russian missile systems and Iranian crude oil during the “2+2 dialogue” with India on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday. However, these will not be the primary focus of the talks, PTI quoted Pompeo as saying.
Pompeo and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis are scheduled to visit India on Thursday for the first “2+2 dialogue” with Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman. The dialogue, which was supposed to be held earlier this year, was postponed twice.
Speaking to reporters before leaving for New Delhi, Pompeo called India “a true strategic partner who, frankly, is our only major defence partner...with whom we have a great relationship”. India is “very important to our success in our Indo-Pacific strategy”, he added.
The United States has reportedly been unhappy with India’s plans to buy the S-400 long-range, surface-to-air missile system from Russia. Under new US laws, countries that strike deals with Russian defence or intelligence sectors can face sanctions. During the talks, India is expected to tell the US that it will not scrap the Rs 40,000-crore deal with Moscow.
“There are half-a-dozen things on the agenda that we are really intent on making progress on,” Pompeo said, adding that the missile deal with Russia and Iranian oil imports are not part of the “structural relationship” between the two countries. He said the dialogue would focus on things that are “big and strategic and will go on for 20, 40, 50 years”.