Pompeo, Mattis participate in talks in India

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India, one of the biggest US arms buyers, has been at odds with Washington recently over new USA sanctions against Iran and Russian Federation, two of its economic and regional partners.

But with trade and strategic ties growing quickly between the US and India, both countries have been eager to downplay potential diplomatic troubles.

Pompeo said the USA values its relationship with India, and noted "we fully support India's rise".

As for what weapons India is looking at purchasing from the US, Director of the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Lieutenant General Charlie Hooper, said simply that discussions were underway to sell "many, many systems" to India, according to The Financial Times. The Trump administration has fumbled an opportunity to cultivate better ties with India, which has always been a tricky USA relationship.

The United States and India took a major step to expand defense ties Thursday, signing a deal that allows India to acquire high-end US weaponry, including armed drones.

The contradictions are such that Prime Minister Modi's office waffled in drafting its press release on his hour-long conversation with the two visiting heavyweights from Washington.

The joint statement after the "2+2" highlighted the steps taken to enhance interoperability - US' designation of India as "major defence partner"; United States military sales to India (valued at US$16 billion); easing of U.S. restrictions on exports of progressively higher levels of technology to India; inclusion of India in the top tier of countries entitled to licence-free exports of USA technology, etc.

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Talking about her bilateral meeting with Pompeo before the 2+2 dialogue, the External Affairs Minister said they reviewed the direction of the Indo-US relations in recent months and exchanged views on a number of regional issues of shared concern. "We see that the United States is our partner of choice", Swaraj said in her opening remarks.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the two sides discussed the USA sanctions against Iran, a nation India relies on as an energy supplier. "In one sense, it makes clear that the wind in the U.S. -India sail is strong, whatever differences there might be". Delhi is buoyed by the fact that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo read the diplomatic version of the riot act to Pakistan en route to Delhi.

The focus of the dialogue will be to deepen strategic ties and resolve differences over India's defence engagement with Russian Federation and crude oil import from Iran.

Defence cooperation has emerged as the most significant dimension of our strategic partnership and as a key driver of ... the bilateral relationship.

Raja Mohan downplayed reports in the USA and Indian media that Trump has mimicked Modi's accent in meetings with his top officials. On Thursday, Pompeo said the USA would work with India on its planned purchase of the S-400.

Calling India its "closest ally" and a "major defence partner", the United States on Thursday assured full help in securing New Delhi's entry into the coveted Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Khan said later he was optimistic he could reset the relationship with Washington after the US cut aid payments over Islamabad's alleged failure to combat the country's militants.

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