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No blanket waiver for India-Russia defence trade: US official

IANS  |  New Delhi 

Amid speculations over the fate of India's purchase of the S-400 Tiumf air defence missile system from following Washington's sanctions on Moscow, a said on Monday that there will be no blanket waiver for defence trade with

"On the S-400, there is no blanket waiver or country-specific waiver," Principal Deputy of State for South and Affairs said while briefing the Indian media over phone from the US about the first ever 2+2 India-US Ministerial Dialogue.

"The authority granted by the allows the to make a determination on individual waivers," Wells said.

Sushma Swaraj, Nirmala Sitharaman, US of State and held the 2+2 Dialogue here on September 6.

With US Donald Trump administration's law -- Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) -- coming into effect in January 2018, India's defence deals with other countries have come under the scanner.

CAATSA targets countries doing business with Russian, Iranian and North Korean defence companies. It is a matter of concern for as it is a major defence partner of

The most controversial issue is India's purchase of four S-400 from Russia at a cost of more that Rs 40,000 crore.

Wells referred to Pompeo's remarks to the media here after the 2+2 Dialogue in which he said that no decision has been taken on the S-400 deal.

"We continue to have conversations with the Indian leadership on ways we are working to hold Russia accountable for its behaviour," she stated.

"As Secretary Pompeo said, the sanctions are not intended to adversely impact countries like These are designed to impact Russia," she said.

"So, we are working through the implications of CAATSA and the significant impact of CAATSA."

Wells said both Mattis and Pompeo described the importance of holding Russia accountable for the actions it has taken and in the region during the meeting.

"And also the actions Russia has taken to subvert the US' democracy. That was the nature of the conversation," she said.

The issue of the US allowing for a Presidential waiver in specific cases also did not come up for discussion, Wells said. "There has been no decision to provide waivers, country-specific waivers in the legislation is on case-by-case basis. There was an understanding of the legacy of India's defence cooperation relationship with Russia."

She said that the focus of the conversation was only on the kind of defence acquisitions needed for its security purposes over the next generation and what impact that has on interoperability.

The most significant outcome of the 2+2 Dialogue was the signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) by the two sides.

COMCASA guarantees India access to critical US and to help the militaries of the two countries in their interoperability.

With imposing fresh sanctions on over Iran's nuclear programme, there have been concerns in as India is heavily reliant on for

Wells said there has been expert-level discussions between India and the US on issues related to exports from and ways to bring those exports down.

Stating that these conversations are ongoing, she said: "We are working very hard with our partners so that there are no disruptions in the market and adequate supply is available to substitute for Iranian "

The sanctions on have also put under jeopardy the Chabahar port project in Iran, being jointly developed by India, and

The port facilitates access to by bypassing and is also a vital link in the International North-South Transport Corridor.

Wells said that the US side heard the Indian government's rationale for Chabahar as a means of providing access to and its role in connectivity through

She said too came up for discussion during the meeting in the context of the region.

With Beijing's growing influence in the region, last year a quad comprising India, the US, and seeking to work for peace and prosperity in the was revived.

Chinese Xi Jinping's pet Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has put a number of countries under debt trap for projects under it raising concerns in various quarters.

Wells said that during the meeting, the two sides discussed how to pursue significant infrastructure projects with sustainable financing in then region.

The US has $1.4 trillion of trade in the Indo-Pacific and $850 billion in foreign direct investment.

"The conversations were on how can we work bilaterally, trilaterally with Japan, quadrilaterally with and Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) at the centre of our efforts," Wells said.

"How can we work to promote economic security, good governance and the security of the seas and skies."

With India-US bilateral trade being largely tilted in India's favour, correcting the trade imbalance also came up for discussion during the 2+2 Dialogue.

"The conversation was on how we grow our trade relationship in a fair and reciprocal manner," Wells said.

"Non-tariff barriers has been a subject of longstanding concern but we are working with the government of India to address market access," she said.

Last month, the US included India among the top tier of countries entitled to licence-free exports, re-exports and transfers under license exception Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1).



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, September 10 2018. 21:38 IST