On the day US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in India, a top official in the External Affairs Ministry exuded confidence that India will receive essential sanctions waivers under CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) on the purchase of S-400 air missile defence systems from Russian Federation.
Terrorism emanating from Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Indo-Pacific, Iran and trade and defence issues will be high on the agenda during the talks between Pompeo and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday. The US Secretary of State will meet his counterpart S Jaishankar on June 26 and will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi before leaving for Osaka on June 27 for the G20 Summit.
Pompeo will be in India as part of a three-nation Asia journey, for the first high-level engagement since the successful re-election of Narendra Modi in the May general elections.
However, just ahead of Pompeo's visit, a senior State Department official said that he will "encourage India to look at alternatives", adding that purchase of S-400s from Russian Federation may attract sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act).
The US reaction on the contentious deal came hours before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's arrival in India.
The Indian side has explained the rationale very well to the United States side and they are appreciative of India's requirement, they said.
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"The US administration has enough flexibility to give a waiver to India on CATSAA sanctions..."
The Chinese president may visit India this year, he added.
Stating that India was deeply interested in "regional stability", diplomatic sources said that India has been conveying to both sides the need to "de-escalate" from the current state of heightened confrontation. In September, during the 2+2 dialogue, the Indian side was made to believe that America may go soft on this aspect with the understanding that strengthening of India's defence systems is in the interest of its partners engaged in the region.
With the USA imposing additional sanctions against Iranian supreme leader Ayotallah Khamenei and their top diplomat Javed Zarif, there is "deep concern" in New Delhi about the direction of this crisis.
"The relationship is at the crossroads, " said Shashank, a former foreign secretary of India who uses only one name. The S-400 Triumf air defence system deal, which is valued at over $5 billion, was signed previous year. This is something we are looking at closely in consultation with all stakeholders. While US delinked both issues, India will continue to pursue the matter of tightening of H1B visa rules.
Despite the tough talk from Washington, Narendra Modi's government still expects to be granted a waiver from sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which the U.S. has repeatedly threatened to introduce if New Delhi goes ahead with its $5 billion purchase of the Russian rockets.