India Says Guided By “National Interest” On S-400 Deal After Pompeo Talks

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Both S Jaishankar and Mike Pompeo said US-india relations would forge ahead despite differences.

New Delhi: 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted to Washington having a divergence of view with New Delhi on issues such as trade during his joint press conference with Foreign Minister S Jaishankar in New Delhi today, but downplayed it by saying that “great friends are bound to have differences”.  

Both the Ministers said they would look at ways to work through these issues, including the United States’ opposition to the $5-billion defence deal for S-400 air defence systems between India and Russia. “On some outstanding issues related to trade, I pushed for a constructive and pragmatic view. The real test of our intentions will be our ability to deal with this,” said Dr Jaishankar.

The Foreign Minister also said that true “maturity” lies in figuring out a solution, something that has not worked out so effectively between the two countries in the recent past. “We have to tell our governments to try harder,” he added.

India had imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US items earlier this month, after the Donald Trump administration ended trade concessions for India on June 1. Mike Pompeo defended his government’s decision, stating that the US deserves greater market access. 

Dr Jaishankar, however, made it clear that India would be guided by its own interests when it comes to purchasing defence systems from Russia. “We have relationships with several countries, many of which are of some standing. They have a history. We will do what is in our national interest,” he said. “We had a discussion on defence cooperation. It is important to display trust and confidence in each other if we want this to grow.” 

The US has sought the cancellation of the S-400 air defence system deal, failing which India would face the risk of American sanctions.

Mike Pompeo also termed Iran as the “biggest sponsor of terror”, a claim that may raise some eyebrows in New Delhi. Although India’s official view on his comment is not yet clear, both sides did discuss the situation in Iran in some detail. India raised its concerns on energy security and the regional situation.

Dr Jaishankar expressed “appreciation for US support” on terrorism-related issues. “We see zero tolerance to cross-border terrorism,” he said.

Mike Pompeo, who had arrived on Tuesday night, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning and discussed various aspects of the US-India bilateral relationship.

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