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Reasons for postponing 2+2 dialogue unrelated to US-India ties: Pompeo


ANI New Delhi [India]
United States Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo has said that the postponement of the July 6 2+2 dialogue with India was for reasons entirely unrelated to the warm bilateral relationship that Washington and New Delhi share.
In a statement, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi said: "
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke last night with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to convey his regret for having to postpone the 2+2 dialogue, which had been scheduled for July 6. This scheduling change was prompted by reasons entirely unrelated to the bilateral relationship."
The statement further said, " Secretary Pompeo and Minister Swaraj agreed to reschedule the 2+2 dialogue as soon as possible. The U.S.-India partnership is a major strategic priority for the Trump Administration. ?The United States remains firmly committed to a strong relationship with India."
The 2+2 dialogue was scheduled for July 6 and was going to be the first simultaneous meeting of Indian and American defence and external affairs ministers -- Nirmala Sitharaman and Sushma Swaraj from India, and James Mattis and Michael Pompeo from the United States in a format that was announced last August.
Meanwhile, various media reports are suggesting that the postponement of the 2+2 dialogue has come in the backdrop of the United States dismantling sanctions relief provided to Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal.
According to these reports, the U.S. State Department has told media in Washington that the Trump Administration has asked India and China to stop all imports of Iranian oil by November 4 or face sanctions.
One foreign media news agency quoted U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley, as saying in New Delhi that she told the Indian leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi that it is important for India to cut its dependence on Iranian oil. She also confirmed that Washington would soon be imposing sanctions on Tehran.
The 2+2 dialogue was announced last August following a call between Prime Minister Modi and President Donald Trump. The July 6 meeting was to focus on "strengthening strategic, security and defense cooperation".
The meeting was earlier scheduled for April, but was put off when President Trump fired then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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First Published: Jun 28 2018 | 2:56 PM IST

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