Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar held a joint press briefing with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday and underlined that it is natural for the two countries to have differences and they will mutually try to address them effectively.
The two leaders touched upon a wide range of issues, including bilateral trade, cross-border terrorism, the situation in Gulf, and defence.
Replying to a question on the issue of India facing possible sanctions under the US’ Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) if they go ahead with the S-400 deal with Russia, Jaishankar said that India will do what is in its national interest.
“We have many relationships with many countries, many of them are of some standing. They have a history. We will do what is in our national interest. A part of that strategic partnership is the ability of each country to comprehend and appreciate the national interest of the other,” Jaishankar said.
On the CAATSA and Iran issues, Pompeo said, “We’ve endeavoured to make sure that our countries can provide security for itself, and I want India to be able to do that too. I see the two issues as real opportunities, I know that we can work together and provide a foundation for the relationship.
Jaishankar asserted that India and the US have a strategic partnership that is based on a deep and broad convergence, which has been steadily growing over the last many years.
Speaking about the recent trade tensions between the two countries, Jaishankar said that being the biggest trade partner of India, it was imperative that the two countries would have some differences from time to time.
“Both as countries and as foreign ministers, harmonising our interests and our views, that’s really the task of diplomacy. It is natural that from time to time in any relationship, specific issues will arise and I think we have discussed many of them.
On terrorism, Jaishankar said, “We discussed a number of bilateral and global issues, on terrorism, I took the opportunity to express our appreciation for the strong support that we have received from the Trump administration, what we say is really zero tolerance for cross border terrorism. Our PM has already called for an initiative for a global conference on terrorism.”
Pompeo highlighted that both countries see each other as bigger than just bilateral partners and can help each other all around the world. “US-India partnership is already beginning to reach new heights, we have bolstered our defence cooperation, we have solidified our common vision for free and open Indo-Pacific. We have grown cooperation in energy, space and other areas,” Pompeo said.
On the Indo-Pacific region stability, Jaishankar said, “I made the point that Indo-Pacific is for something, not against somebody and that something is peace, security, stability, rules and prosperity. We are looking at a landscape where a number of independent players work together for what they believe to be global good.”
On the ongoing tensions between the US and Iran, Jaishankar said, “We discussed the situation in the Gulf, I shared our interests and concerns with Secretary Pompeo, energy security is part of it but there are other concerns as well about diaspora, regional security, and trade.”
“We have a certain perspective on Iran, obviously from where we are based. US Secretary of State shared with me the American concerns on Iran. Both of us certainly came out much better informed of each other’s concerns in that regard,” he added.
Pompeo, meanwhile, called Iran as the “world’s largest state sponsor of terror”, adding that both India and the US have a shared understanding of ‘threat’. “We all know that Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror&Indian people have suffered from terror around the world. We’ve a shared understanding of threat&a common purpose to ensure that we can keep the energy at right prices&deter this threat,” Pompeo said.
Earlier in the day, Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and congratulated him on winning a decisive mandate in the recent Lok Sabha elections. PM Modi and Pompeo held discussion on various aspects of the bilateral relationship to strengthen the India-US strategic partnership.