U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo’s visit to India promises to address trade, other key issues

indica News Bureau-


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to New Delhi next week in an attempt to strengthen America’s relationship with India and to kickstart a dialogue aimed at resolving some key issues in bilateral trade ties, the Trump Administration said Friday.

“The purpose of the trip for the Secretary (of State) is to broaden and deepen our relationship,” a senior State Department official told reporters in a conference call previewing the India visit by the U.S.’s top diplomat, which is the highest level visit by a Trump administration official since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in for his second term in May.

Pompeo, during his New Delhi visit, will meet Modi and the secretary’s new Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, whom the official described as one of the visionaries behind the expansion of the U.S.-India strategic partnership.

“Modi’s historic win and sweeping mandate in recent elections, we believe, offer a unique opportunity for him to implement his vision for a strong and prosperous India, that plays a leading role on the global stage,” the official said, adding that the Trump administration wants to seize this moment early in Modi’s second term to accelerate the relationship’s upward trajectory.

While the two countries’ views and interest are converging on a host of strategic and defense issues, including the Indo-Pacific region, the State Department official acknowledged the differences between India and U.S. on a number of trade-related issues.

American companies have concerns about market access and the lack of a level playing field in important sectors, and recent Indian government measures such as increasing tariffs on a range of products, restricting e-commerce operation and limiting the free flow of data are particularly problematic, not just for U.S. companies but also for Indian companies and their long-term competitiveness, the official said.

Observing that the Trump administration wants both countries to thrive, the official said that Pompeo during his meetings in New Delhi will “convey” the “extraordinary potential to realize the collective strength of our economy” and would insist on “fair and reciprocal approach” to trade relationship.

Referring to the recent speech by Pompeo to the U.S.-India Business Council, the official said the secretary of state thinks the relationship has great potential to advance the security and prosperity of the U.S. and India in the Indo-Pacific region and the global landscape.

Responding to a question, the official said this is the time when the Trump administration will be encouraging India to look at the alternative to the S-400 defense missile deal with the Russians.

Noting that trade would be an important part of conversations during Pompeo’s visit, the official said the secretary of state certainly is going to pester Modi’s new administration “to make headway, to jump-start a discussion on trade” to quickly resolve the very longstanding differences and irritants in the bilateral relations.

“This is not something that’s going to be solved in one meeting, but being able to kickstart a serious process, a credible process and a candid process is going to be critical,” the official said in response to a question on bilateral trade relationship.

The Trump administration, the official said, has been engaged in conversation with India on trade-related issues for a long time but without success in reaching the kind of reciprocal and fair trade that the administration aspires to.

“So we need to get a conversation started quickly,” the official said, adding that the two countries have so much to gain by being able to work together, particularly as one looks at Modi’s agenda of increasing employment and creating jobs


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