Tribune News service
New Delhi, June 26
India and the US today played down their differences on trade, security and cultural issues by resolving to work around the divergences through dialogue.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar utilised the joint press conference with visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to spell out the country’s position on Iran, Asia-Pacific and Russia that is at variance with the American stance. Both countries resolved to push their security partnership forward by agreeing to hold the second joint meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers in Washington. India hoped for US quarterbacking for a global conference on terrorism.
Jaishankar signalled annoyance at Washington’s bid to stop India from purchasing the Russian S-400 missile defence system.
“India today operates a number of US origin equipment platform and equipment. If that is to continue to grow, we should display trust and confidence in each other,’’ he observed.
“Pompeo knows, and I explained in some detail, we have many relationships of some standing and history. We will do everything in our national interest. Part of our strategic partnership is the ability to comprehend and appreciate the national interests of the other,’’ said Jaishankar while speaking specifically on US law CAATSA that imposes sanctions on countries buying arms from Russia.
On Asia-Pacific where the US is keen to involve India, the minister made it clear that India saw its efforts as directed against China. India will work for “for something and not against somebody.” He said India’s vision was to promote peace, security, prosperity and rules in a landscape where independent players worked together for global good. On Iran, India made it clear that it nursed a different perspective owing to its geographical and civilisational proximity.
For the most part, the two ministers treaded cautiously around the issues of discord and sought to underplay the divergences while citing the big picture of intense Indo-US engagement. Jaishankar and Pompeo met days ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Modi and US President Donald Trump. Pompeo said India’s interests and concerns were “well understood” in Washington.
There were “some outstanding issues”, particularly related to trade and “my urging was that we take a constructive and pragmatic view. It is natural when we have trade, you will have trade issues. The real test of our intentions is our ability to address them effectively,’’ Jaishankar responded. Pompeo wanted both sides to get “this economic piece as there are millions of opportunities ahead.”
The two leaders discussed people-to-people ties against the backdrop of increasing US curbs on visas besides the situation in Afghanistan, Pompeo’s previous port of call where he praised Pakistan’s efforts to bring about a peace settlement. Pompeo also met PM Modi and NSA Ajit Doval.
Jaishankar spoke of the intense criticism of Indo-US ties that preceded Pompeo’s arrival and reasoned that “much of the noise would not be happening if we did not have a great relationship. I urge you not to be carried away by this noise. Instead, look at the basics and ability in the past to address that.There is always more work to be done.”