Pompeo's Visit: Allies or frenemies, United States must choose

Pompeo's Visit: Allies or frenemies, United States must choose”

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo is likely to discuss Huawei's participation in India's 5G trials with the government today as he arrived in the country for his first first high-level engagement with Modi-led NDA regime after Lok Sabha elections.

Despite the tough talk from Washington, Narendra Modi's government still expects to be granted a waiver from sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which the United States has repeatedly threatened to introduce if New Delhi goes ahead with its $5 billion purchase of the Russian rockets.

On his trip, Pompeo is expected to persuade India to boost USA oil and "freedom gas" purchases to cut reliance on Venezuelan and Iranian crude, as Washington continues to pursue regime-change-through-sanctions policies in these countries.

On indications that the USA administration could place a cap on H-1B visa which could affect Indian techies, sources said India has not heard anything official on this count from Washington.

"I urge you to use your visit to not only reaffirm and strengthen the US-India strategic partnership, but also convey a coherent set of objectives and predictability to the new Indian government that will help this relationship reach its full potential", Engel said.

This will clear the way for the flow of classified technologies from USA industry to Indian industry, including in the defence sector.

While trade issues are led by the U.S. Trade Representative's office and the commerce departments, Pompeo is expected to raise some of the concerns U.S. companies have about new rules on local storage of data as well as restrictions on foreign companies' online operations in India. The US Secretary of State will meet his counterpart S Jaishankar on June 26 and will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi before leaving for Osaka on June 27 for the G20 Summit.

Mr Pompeo will also deliver an address on Indo-US ties in the capital on Wednesday evening before his departure from New Delhi on Thursday.

India says the missiles are necessary to bolster defences against China, but Washington has said it would prefer India to consider other options including US defence firms for alternative weapons systems.

The US trade is likely to feature right at the top, with the country asking India to drop trade barriers.

"We have a long-standing defence relationship with Russian Federation which we can not wish way". Both the countries have their own interests...

Speaking to reporters in Gandhinagar, Jaishankar said: "We will definitely discuss issues related to trade between the two countries..." India went ahead to seal the deal notwithstanding the US' warnings against it. We have to find our own balance... by looking at our security issues and pulse of domestic requirements.

"We will be meeting with a positive attitude", he said.

The negotiations for the agreement are at an advance stage, the source added.

India this month imposed higher tariffs on 28 U.S. products including almonds, apples and walnuts, following the United States withdrawal of certain trade privileges for India.

Terrorism, trade-related differences and US-Iran tensions, too, are expected to be on the agenda for Pompeo's meetings with his Indian interlocutors.

India will once again emphasise on how it has worked over the last three years on reducing trade deficit and is willing to engage with the U.S. on the issue. In September, during the 2+2 dialogue, the Indian side was made to believe that America may go soft on this aspect with the understanding that strengthening of India's defence systems is in the interest of its partners engaged in the region.

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