New Delhi: At a time when India and the US seem on the verge of a trade spat, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader has said that India and the US are indispensible to each other and that Washington should review its transactional approach to ties with New Delhi.

“This transactional nature of the relationship, which the Indian side feels today, needs to be addressed. We are together for larger goals also," Ram Madhav, BJP general secretary, said in a speech to the US-India Business Council in New Delhi on Monday.

Describing India and the US as “natural allies", Madhav said, “trade is a big element between our two countries but while I acknowledge the importance of trade and growing opportunities between our two countries, I do not for a moment agree that trade is the only relationship between our two countries."

“Beyond trade, it is a very important strategic partnership. It is a relationship that is most important because of the strategic partnership. We consider this relationship as the most important from our perspective," Madhav said, adding that the US needs to look at India as an “opportunity."

The comments come as India and the US sit down to talks to ensure that differences over trade do not balloon out of control, upsetting other strands of the relationship. A delegation of trade officials led by assistant US trade representative Mark Limscott is in New Delhi on Monday and Tuesday for inter-sessional talks ahead of the annual Trade Policy Forum meeting between the two countries later this year. Indian commerce secretary Rita Teaotia last month said India was surprised and disappointed by the US decision to include it in a list of countries that will face higher tariffs on their exports of steel and aluminium although it is not a major exporter of these items to the US.

In keeping with his election promise of putting “America First" and imposing sanctions on those countries seen as engaging in unfair trade with the US, US President Donald Trump last month announced stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminium from a slew of countries including India while sparing some like Canada and Mexico.

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