India ought to be one of US’s closest partners: Pompeo
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, May 25, said India needed to play a central role in what the Donald Trump administration does in South and Central Asia and that it "ought to be" one of America's closest partners, PTI reported. Pompeo said this to the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"For scores of reasons, India needs to be central to what we do. Specific issues - South Central Asia issues, Southeast Asia issues. They ought to be one of our closest partners and we ought to do everything we can to make sure that we achieve that," the PTI report quoted Pompeo, who took over in April, as saying.
Pompeo, who was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency before taking over as the secretary of state, expressed his views while answering Delaware Senator Chris Coons on how to improve the US's relations with India.
"Mr. Secretary, if you would like to say anything about how we can work with this most populous democracy, a potential strategic partner to strengthen that relationship, I'll make that my last question," Coons asked, according to the report.
To this, Pompeo said that he and US Defence Secretary James Mattis will jointly meet with their Indian counterparts over a dialogue although he could not confirm whether the date for that occasion was finalised.
"...we're looking to do it. I think it's set this summer, very important," the report quoted Pompeo as saying.
Pompeo and Mattis are likely to host their respective Indian counterparts - External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman - some time this summer for the maiden 2+2 dialogue.
The decision on this was taken during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first meeting with President Trump in Washington on June 26 last year.
The Trump administration has shown interest in getting close to India on strategic regional issues concerning Afghanistan and Asia-Pacific although there have also been occasions of worry in other realms of bilateral relations between them - be it trade or immigration.