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2+2 dialogue: S-400 deal, India importing oil from Iran not primary focus of talks, says Pompeo

By Vikas
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    Washington, Sep 5: With the '2+2' dialogue between India and the United States set to be held tomorrow, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that CAATSA waiver and India's oil imports from Iran would not be the primary focus of talks.

    "They will certainly come up, but I don't think they will be the primary focus of what it is we are trying to accomplish here," said Pompeo to travelling US media when asked S-400 missile deal and India importing crude from Iran.

    2+2 dialogue: S-400 deal, India importing oil from Iran not primary focus of talks, says Pompeo

    "Those decisions (Russian missile defence systems and Iran oil export to India) are important to relationship but do not see us resolving those or having even-have intention to resolve those during this set of meetings of Strategic Dialogue," he added.

    Also Read | S-400 missile deal: Will India be granted waiver from CAATSA?

    Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis are headed to India for the talks tomorrow with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. This is the inaugural 2+2 dialogue between the two countries.

    India is likely to push the US for a waiver from CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), which may come into affect if India goes ahead with the purchase of S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems from Russia. India is likely to go ahead with its purchase from Russia despite possibility of sanctions looming large.

    Also Read | US imposes 'ban' on oil import from Iran: Can India afford to follow the diktat?

    On one hand India wants these missiles to strenghthen defence capabilities, but at the same time does not want to sour relations with the US. India is said to be hopful that the Trump administration would grant exemption to India under CAATSA.

    He regretted that the dialogue had to be postponed twice in the past.

    "I regret it was my fault the second time. I had to travel to Pyongyang. But secretary Mattis and I are both looking forward to this," he said.

    The twice-delayed dialogue was earlier scheduled for July 6 in Washington, but was postponed by the US on June 27, citing "unavoidable reasons".

    Also Read | India defies US sanctions pressure; allows state refiners to use Iran tankers

    US had asked all countries, including India, to stop all oil imports from Iran by November. America has ruled out any exemption to India and Indian companies from its re-imposed Iranian sanctions regime.

    India is the second largest buyer of petroleum from Iran after China, and Iran is the third largest supplier to India after Saudi Arabia and Iraq. New Delhi was not happy with the Trump administration's decision pull out of the Iran nuclear deal last month and its announcement that sanctions will be back in force in two tranches by November 4.

    Sushma Swaraj, External affairs minister, had said that "India follows only UN sanctions and not unilateral sanctions by any country" days after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran deal.

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