External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his American counterpart Mike Pompeo on Wednesday and discussed ways to strengthen the Indo-US strategic partnership.
Pompeo, who arrived in Delhi Tuesday night, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the morning and discussed various aspects of the bilateral relationship. He is also slated to meet NSA Ajit Doval.
"Working together to further deepen our strategic partnership. Secretary Pompeo called on PM Narendra Modi to exchange views on various aspects of Indo-US relationship. PM will meet President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 Osaka Summit," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted along with pictures of the meeting.
Ahead of the strategically-important India-US talks, diplomatic sources on Tuesday said India meets the US waiver criteria for procuring the S-400 missile defence system from sanctions-hit Russia, and asserted that New Delhi cannot "wish away" its defence ties with Moscow.
India inked an agreement with Russia in October last year to procure a batch of the missile systems at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore. India went ahead to seal the deal notwithstanding the US' warnings against it.
The Indian government had said earlier that it will start receiving the missile systems from Russia from October next year and the deliveries will be completed by April 2023. There were apprehensions about the payment mechanism for the deal in the wake of the US sanctions against Russia.
Besides India's missile defence system deal with Russia, terrorism, H-1B visas, trade and the situation arising out of US sanctions on buying oil from Iran, are likely to be discussed on Wednesday during the talks between Jaishankar and Pompeo.
Pompeo's talks in Delhi will be the first high-level interaction between the two countries after return of the Modi government to power last month.
The three-day visit of Pompeo comes amidst rising tensions between the US and Iran over fresh sanctions imposed on Tehran, an issue which will be discussed between the two sides on Wednesday.
Following fresh US sanctions, Indian oil companies are also facing a tough time and many have reportedly stopped importing oil from Iran. Government sources, however, say that India will take any decision on the issue keeping its energy security and national interest in mind.
Diplomatic sources said there is no structured agenda and New Delhi is expected to urge for de-escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran. They said there could be a discussion on the situation in the Persian Gulf region, which has a big Indian diaspora.
Pompeo will also deliver a speech on the future of the relationship and opportunities for cooperation on global issues of shared concern.
As vibrant democracies rooted in shared values, with fast-growing economies, cultures of entrepreneurship, and leadership positions on the global stage, the United States and India are natural strategic partners, a statement issued by the US Department of State said, ahead of Pompeo's visit.
US President Donald Trump and Modi are firmly committed to accelerating the upward trajectory of this partnership. Modi's sweeping mandate in the recent elections creates a unique opportunity to realise this vision, it said.
Pompeo's visit comes ahead of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan later this week.