India central to US policy in Pacific, Pompeo tells lawmakers
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.
Massive opposition to the army’s takeover has evolved into what some U.N. experts characterize as a civil war. The new armed rebel groups opposed to the takeover have allied themselves with some of the major ethnic minority guerrilla organizations, stretching the military's resources. Offering generous peace terms to the ethnic groups could shake the anti-government alliances.
Canada announced Friday a ban on trade in luxury goods with Russia, and added 14 more Russian oligarchs and other associates of President Vladimir Putin to its sanctions list imposed over the invasion of Ukraine. The ban aligns with similar measures imposed by allies such as the United States and the European Union, and "will help to mitigate the potential for Russian oligarchs to circumvent restrictions in other luxury goods markets," the government said.
The UN human rights Michelle Bachelet's six-day China visit -- the first since 2005 -- beginning Monday will include a trip to the northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang, where China has been accused of human rights violations. Bachelet will be in China between May 23 and 28 during which she will visit Urumqi and Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and the southern province of Guangzhou.
Russian supply of natural gas to Finland will be cut on Saturday morning, Finnish and Russian energy companies said Friday, after the Nordic country refused to pay supplier Gazprom in rubles. Gazprom Export, the exporting arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom, said it had not received payment for gas supplied in April and would therefore halt deliveries from Saturday. Gazprom Export said it would defend its interests in court by any "means available".
India has sent additional aide to economic crisis-hit neighbour Sri Lanka which will reach Colombo on Sunday, the Indian high commission in Sri Lanka tweeted. “People of #India, standing by their brethren in #SriLanka. Rice, milk powder and medicines worth more than SLR 2billion is scheduled to reach #Colombo on Sunday. The consignment was flagged off from #Chennai by CM of Tamil Nadu @mkstalin on Wednesday,” the Indian mission posted on its Twitter handle.