United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said discussions were continuing on whether to grant India waivers from US sanctions on Russia and Iran, reported PTI. He said that Washington did not aim to “penalise great strategic partners like India”.
“The sanctions aren’t intended to adversely impact countries like India,” said Pompeo. “They are intended to be a have an impact on the sanctioned country, which is Russia.”
Pompeo, along with Defence Secretary James Mattis, held the first 2+2 Dialogue with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi on Thursday.
Last week, a top US government official warned India that Washington cannot guarantee New Delhi a special waiver from sanctions if it buys new weapons platforms from Moscow. The US is reportedly 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 make deals with Russian defence or intelligence sectors can face sanctions. However, the US Congress, on August 1, granted President Donald Trump and Pompeo the power to waive sanctions. On Thursday, Pompeo said the US would work with India on its planned purchase of the S-400.
Pompeo said that the US wants to bridge the trade deficit with India, reported ANI. “India is going to buy more energy products and aircraft from the US,” he said. “But the gap will remain and I urge them to do all they can to narrow it.”
On the issue of India’s oil imports from Iran, the US has told every nation that sanctions with respect to Iranian crude oil will be enforced from November 4, said Pompeo. “We will consider waivers where appropriate, but that it is our expectation that the purchases of Iranian crude oil will go to zero from every country, or sanctions will be imposed,” he said.
Earlier on Thursday, India and the US signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, which allows India to receive advanced US military hardware. Sitharaman said the two countries agreed to continue their cooperation against terrorism and other security challenges.