With India meeting, Trump administration seeks to build ties, not damage them

World       by Muhammad Irfan | Published

"Washington has to appreciate these efforts being made by India", the official said.

The drills would be a first of sorts - the two countries' forces have not previously trained simultaneously in the air, on the land and at sea.

Therefore, when India's Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meet their American counterparts, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 6 September, they will be expected to dive into the specificities of what unites and divides the two countries on the strategic front.

India and the USA would also hold a first-ever tri-service exercise on the east coast of India in 2019, Ms. Sitharaman announced.

At the end of the highest level bilateral dialogue this year, India and the United States have signed the second foundational agreement that will allow for greater inter-operation between the two militaries.

Sitharaman stated that signing the COMCASA with the United States will help to improve India's defence preparedness. The two sides also discussed the ongoing efforts by India and the United States in promoting an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan government-controlled reconciliation process, that brings together all ethnic groups and political formation in that country, the minister added.

The two defence ministers also announced their readiness to begin negotiations on an Industrial Security Annex (ISA) that would support closer defence industry cooperation and collaboration.

"The future is very bright for both countries, but the United States must fully prioritise and expertly execute on this relationship", former USA ambassador to India Tim Roemer said in an op-ed in the Foreign Policy magazine on Tuesday.

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What issues will India and the USA focus on?

"India attaches the highest priority to its strategic partnership with the United States".

Pompeo said the accord was a "major step" forward that officials have previously said would allow the U.S.to transfer high-tech equipment such as armed surveillance drones.

But the relationship also has been marked by frictions and the current moment is no exception, with India's reliance on Russian Federation as a defense supplier and its economic ties to Iran raising hackles in Washington.

The two sides also discussed the ongoing efforts by India and the U.S. in promoting an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan government-controlled reconciliation process in the country.

However, a new defence bill proposes giving the USA president authority to grant waivers when national security interests are at stake.

The United States is also pushing countries to halt oil imports from Iran after Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers that was meant to stall Tehran's developing nuclear capabilities. The United States will reimpose sanctions on Iranian oil in November and is pushing buyers like India to make dramatic reductions in their purchases.

They came amid a series of divisive issues, including Washington's demands that India stop buying Iranian oil and a Russian air-defence system and news reports that President Donald Trump had privately mimicked the accent of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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