Hours ahead of the ‘2 Plus 2’ talks between India and the United States, official sources maintained here that New Delhi is firm about its open and independent foreign relations with major powers such as China and Russia.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford will also be part of the US delegation at the top level political interactions wherein the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Matis will hold bilateral and delegation-level talks with Indian counterparts Sushma Swaraj
and Nirmala Sitharaman here on Thursday.
The two sides are also negotiating a Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which would enable them to share advanced satellite data for navigation and missile targeting.
“The United States is keen to tap into India’s large defence market. It has emerged as India’s No 2 weapons supplier, closing $15 billion worth of deals over the last decade. A senior US defence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the two countries were looking at a carrying out a major joint exercise–involving troops on land, at sea and in the air,” said a media report.
Randall Schriver, the Pentagon’s top Asia official, predicted last week that the discussions would produce “a set of actual concrete outcome”.
“The 2+2 presents an historic opportunity to develop our growing partnership and to explore ways of enhancing our security cooperation,” Marine General Joseph Dunford told reporters travelling with him to the talks, according to reports.
The United States and India have increased defence ties over the past decade. The Thursday’s parleys too would significantly boos defence and security cooperation, including in areas of co-development of military platforms, government sources said.
Maintaining that India has an ‘independent’ foreign policy, sources said India’s position on the issue defence ties with Russia will not be impacted by the India-US relations or the ‘2 Plus 2’ Dialogues.
India hopes the US will weigh in on its strategic relations on issue of purchase of S400 missiles from Russia.
New Delhi will also seek to make the Trump regime on its major trade concerns. There was a 5 per cent decrease in bilateral trade deficit worth nearly $1.5 billion last year.
“There are different ways of reducing deficit like purchase of new products or services,” a source said on Wednesday.
On US sanctions on import of Iranian oil, the Indian side will explain that India is oil-import dependent country and how this is crucial for India’s energy security.
In May, the US withdrew from the landmark Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed the sanctions that had been suspended in return for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Iran is India’s third largest oil supplier and the US sanctions on import of Iranian petroleum products is to come effect from November 4.