The 2 + 2 dialogue to be held on Thursday between India and the US awaits important issues to be discussed – defence relation with Russia and trade relation with Iran.
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Two of US President Donald Trump’s top officials are finally heading for talks in India on Thursday after Washington twice delayed the meeting. The 2+2 dialogue will see US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meet with their Indian counterparts on a range of key defence and trade issues.
The diplomats must smooth a slew of problems exacerbated by Trump’s relationship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The talks were first meant to be held in April and then in June but both were postponed, triggering speculation of a possible rift amid disputes over trade.
Putting aside the interpersonal dynamics of their two leaders, the officials must tackle two urgent issues－the United States’ demands for India to stop buying Iranian oil, and for it to think twice about making new Russian arms purchases.
In 2016, Washington designated India a “Major Defense Partner”, capping years of efforts to improve India-US ties under President Barack Obama. The aim was to improve army cooperation and cut red tape to ease defence deals.
Russian Military Deal
The US wants India to distance itself from Russia, notably by stepping back from decades of purchases of Russian military equipment.
But India, the world’s top defence importer, wants to buy new systems from Moscow, including its S-400 surface-to-air missile system.
Under present US rules against Russia, third countries could face sanctions if they transact with Russian defence or intelligence sectors. As per the PTI report, the deal was almost done and New Delhi would be asking for a special sanctions waiver from Washington.
However, Randall Schriver, the Pentagon’s assistant secretary of defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, warned last week that there are no guarantees. “We would still have very significant concerns if India pursued major new platforms and systems (from Russia). I can’t sit here and tell you that they would be exempt, that we would use that waiver,” he said, adding that the US is ready to assist India to find an alternative for the S-400. India already has purchased US Apache attack helicopters and other equipment and is negotiating to buy armed drones.