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US, India Hold Meeting with 2 Sticking Points

September 5, 2018

The United States and India will try to expand already close defense ties when senior leaders from both countries meet for their first two plus two dialogue Thursday in New Delhi.

The world’s two largest democracies, the United States and India, have a lot in common, including a desire to contain China. But the United States takes issue with India buying oil from Iran and its planned acquisition of a Russian missile defense system.

On his way to India, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis confirmed he will discuss the Russian missile defense system, but said shared values will allow the two countries to handle any perturbations in stride, without alarm.

Freedom means that at times nations don’t agree with each other. That doesn’t mean we can’t be partners. That doesn’t mean we don’t respect the sovereignty of other nations, said Mattis.

While India does not recognize unilateral U.S. sanctions and has bristled at what it considers U.S. restraints on its historically neutral stance in world affairs, U.S. and Indian officials have described the relationship as extremely close.

What we see is a continuing growth of the consultations between us. It’s on a very firm foundation, Mattis said.

The talks will also include U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Russian missile system

Last week, the Pentagon threatened to impose sanctions on India if it purchases the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system. The deal, estimated at around $6 billion, would violate U.S. sanctions placed on Russia last year in response to Moscow’s destabilizing activities globally.

While the Trump administration could extend a sanctions waiver to India there’s no guarantee that will happen, the Pentagon’s top Asia policy official, Randall Schriver, said last week.

We would have very significant concerns if India pursued major new [Russian] platforms and systems, Schriver said.

Source: Voice of America

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