US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: AP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: AP

2+2 dialogue: US, India to talk strategic items, says Mike Pompeo

India likely to convey to the US its decision to buy five S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems from Russia for $4.5 billion

Washington: The US and India have “big and strategic" items to discuss during the first 2+2 Dialogue, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who asserted that the primary focus of the meeting was not about India’s plans to buy a Russian missile defence system and oil from Iran.

Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis are headed to India for the talks on Thursday with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

“They are (missile system purchase from Russia and oil from Iran) part of the conversation. They are part of the relationship. They will certainly come up, but I do not think they will be the primary focus of what we are trying to accomplish here," Pompeo said.

India is expected to convey to the US during the dialogue that it is will procure from Russia five S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems for nearly $4.5 billion.

“There are half-a-dozen things on the agenda that we are really intent on making progress on. Those decisions are important, they are important to the relationship for sure, but I do not see us resolving those or have intention to resolve those during this set of meetings of the strategic dialogue. They are really about things that are big and strategic and will go on for 20, 40, 50 years. Those are the kinds of topics that secretary Mattis and I are hoping to address – not that those are not important, but they are not part of the structural relationship between the two countries," Pompeo said.

Last month, the Pentagon ruled out an automatic waiver for India from the punitive US sanctions over its weapons purchase from Russia, saying Washington had concerns over the Russian missile defence system deal. Randall G Schriver, assistant secretary of defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, said: “I can’t sit here and tell you today that a (CAATSA) waiver would necessarily be used (for India). It would be a topic discussed at the highest level of our government and they would make some determination".