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India, US discuss differences on market access in spirit of friendship


ANI Asia
The two sides also discussed India's concerns on energy and terrorism during talks between visiting US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.
India conveyed that it will go by its national interest on the decision on purchasing S-400 missile defence system from Russia and the two sides had some divergence of views on Iran.
Pompeo's visit came ahead of the meeting between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Japan. He is the first senior member of the Trump administration to visit India in the new term of Modi government.
During discussions on energy issues, Jaishankar underlined importance stability, predictability and affordability in terms of India's energy import. The two leaders had detailed discussion about the Gulf region, and Jaishankar talked about India's stakes in terms of energy, diaspora, trade and its stakes in the regional stability.
At a joint press conference later, Pompeo talked of opportunities before India and the US in the Indo-Pacific region and referred to China's Belt and Road projects.
He said countries in this part of the world which have signed on the project have found that Beijing's deals come not with strings attached, but with shackles and they were looking to provide infrastructure, digital connectivity, and energy supplies to their people without relinquishing their sovereignty.
Pompeo also said the United States is commited towards ensuring that India has the military capability it needs to uphold its territorial integrity and to confront 21st century challenges.
Jaishankar said that two sides were "guided by big picture" and felt the need to filter through the noise and get down to the basics of the relationship.
"This has been a great relationship. Look at where it is now. Think of it every five years before that. Obviously, from time to time, in any relationship, specific issues will arise and we discussed many of those issues in the framework of that big picture. We are both very conscious to deliver on the vision of our leaders. Our discussions took a very integrated view of domains the relationship deals with," he said.
Pompeo said, "Iran is the world's largest state sponsor of terror, and we know the Indian people, how they have suffered from terror around the world".
"So I think there is a shared understanding of threat and a common purpose to ensure that we can keep energy at the right prices and deter this threat - not only the threat in the narrow confines of the Middle East, but the threat that this terror regime poses to the entire world," he said.
Jaishankar said that the global energy supplies should remain predictable and affordable and the visiting US leader was very receptive.
"We have a certain perspective on Iran, obviously from where we are based. US Secretary of State shared with me the American concerns on Iran. Both of us certainly came out much better informed of each other's concerns in that regard," he said.
The US had, earlier this year, decided not to renew exemptions to India and some other countries from its sanctions for importing oil from Iran. The exemptions ended on May 2.
Amid concerns in the US over India procuring S-400 missile defence system from Russia, Jaishankar said India will go by its national interest.
"We have many relationships with many countries. Many of them are of some standing. They have a history. So, I think, we will do what we do is on our national interest. And again, part of that strategic partnership is the ability of each country to comprehend and appreciate the national interest of the other," he said.
He was responding to a question about India risking sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) if it went ahead with deal to procure S400 missile systems from Russia.
In an indication that the US may have softened its stance on the issue, Pompeo said the two countries should be able to provide security for themselves. "We want to make sure that each of our two countries is able to provide security for itself. We want India to be able to do that as well," he said
Jaishankar also said that India was using a number of US platforms and it was important to display confidence and trust in each other.
On outstanding issues especially those related to trade, he called for "a constructive and pragmatic view".
Earlier in the day, Pompeo met the Prime Minister and the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Pompeo said India's ability to fight it should be second to none and the two countries will continue to work together to improve information sharing, and intelligence sharing.
He said the two countries have to get the economic piece right because there are a myriad of opportunities in the Indo-Pacific region.
"Countries are looking to provide infrastructure, digital connectivity, and energy supplies to their people without relinquishing their sovereignty. We, together, should act quickly to fulfill the ambitious vision for prosperity that's shared by President Trump and Prime Minister Modi - not just for our own people, but for the good of the region and the world," he said.
He said the relationship has made real strides and the two countries see each other not just as bilateral partners but as friends who can help each other all around the world.
"The U.S.-India partnership is already beginning to reach new heights. We've bolstered our defense cooperation, we've solidified our common vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, and we've grown cooperation in energy and in space and in other areas," he said.
Jaishankar said that Indo-Pacific is for something, not against somebody.
"And that something is peace, security, stability, prosperity, and rules. So we're really looking at a landscape where a number of independent players today work together for what they believe to be global good," he said. The two sides also discussed the situation in Afghanistan.

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First Published: Jun 26 2019 | 11:03 PM IST

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