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India central to US policy in Pacific, Pompeo tells lawmakers

Pompeo also spoke about the upcoming 2+2 joint meeting of the defence and foreign affairs ministers of the two countries, which he said was “very, very important”.

world Updated: May 24, 2018 23:42 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
India,US,Pacific
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo arrives to testify before the Senate foreign relations committee in Washington on May 24, 2018.(NYT)

India is “central’ to US policy in the Pacific and the region and it “ought to be one of our closest partners”, secretary of state Mike Pompeo told lawmakers at a Senate hearing on Thursday.

“For scores of reasons, India needs to be central to what we do,” Pompeo said in response to a question from a senator about India-US ties, as related to “Pacific issues, South Central Asia Issues, and South East Asia issues”.

“They ought to be one of our closest partners,” Pompeo said, in what were possibly his first remarks on India after taking over as secretary of state in late April. “We ought to be doing everything we can to make sure we achieve that.”

Pompeo spoke about the upcoming 2+2 joint meeting of the defence and foreign affairs ministers of the two countries, which he said was “very, very important”.

No dates have been announced yet, but he said it could be held his summer. Hindustan Times has reported it could be in July.

Pompeo also sought a “waiver” from Russia-related sanctions for some countries without naming them. Defence secretary James Mattis had named India and Vietnam at a recent hearing of his own. Pompeo told the US House of Representatives on Wednesday that he supported that request.

Pompeo also urged the Senate to grant waiver powers from Russia-related sanctions under the Combatting America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for countries that were intended to be hurt by it. That law sanctions “significant” transactions with designated Russian entities by third parties, and could impact India’s plans to buy Russian S-400 missile defence system.

He had made the same request to the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

First Published: May 24, 2018 23:39 IST