United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said that India should further open up its economy and “diversify” its energy portfolio. He made the remark during the India Ideas Summit of US-India Business Council in Washington DC, PTI reported.

Pompeo said that countries which have allowed US firms to carry out “fair and reciprocal trade” have seen “real opportunity”. “As Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi said in his latest campaign, ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai,’ or ‘Modi makes it possible’, I’m looking forward to exploring what’s possible between our people,” Pompeo said. He was referring to the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign.

The US secretary of state also praised new External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. “He said in a speech in April that he’s ready to cultivate warmer relations with America – and the feeling is mutual,” Pompeo said. “We want to move ahead.”

“Forging strong ties means formalising these individual friendships,” Pompeo said. “Last year, we kicked off the ‘2+2 dialogue’ alongside the Department of Defence. We’ve also reinvigorated the Quad Dialogue among India, the United States, Japan, and Australia.” He said India is different from China and Pakistan. The United States and China are embroiled in a trade war.

Pompeo sought a “partnership of true equals” between India and the US, not one in which a country dominates the other. “We’ll also push for free flow of data across borders, not just to help American companies, but to protect data and secure consumers’ privacy,” he said. “And speaking of privacy, we are eager to help India establish secure communications networks including 5G.”

“We remain open to dialogue and hope our Indian friends will drop their trade barriers and trust in the competitiveness of their exporters and private-sector companies,” the US secretary of state added.

Pompeo also tweeted restating the US desire for better relations with India. “It’s natural that the world’s most populous democracy should partner with the world’s oldest democracy to maintain our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific: a vision that reinforces democratic values through partnership, economic openness, liberty and sovereignty,” he said. “The United States and India have a unique opportunity to move forward together – for the good of our peoples, the Indo-Pacific region, and the world.”

The US secretary of state will visit India later this month, and meet Modi and Jaishankar.

Trump’s remarks on India

On Monday, United States President Donald Trump had said that India’s tariff on American motorcycles was too high and not acceptable to him. His comments came even after India reduced the tariff from 100% to 50%.

Trump said Modi agreed to reduce the tariff to 50% after his phone call. “I said it’s still unacceptable because it’s 50% versus nothing,” said the US president. “It’s still unacceptable. And they’re working on it.” Trump claimed the US was a bank that everyone wants to rob.

In March, Trump had claimed that India charges America very high tariffs on exports, and called for a reciprocal tax. In February 2018, India had slashed the customs duty on imported motorcycles such as those of Harley Davidson and Triumph after Trump threatened to impose retaliatory taxes.