Pompeo, Mattis talk bolstering Indian ties despite tensions

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The US and India had on Thursday held long-delayed "2+2" talks amid a series of divisive issues, including Washington's demands that India stop buying Iranian oil and a Russian air-defence system.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis are being hosted in Delhi by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

"Mohammad, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, D-Company, and their affiliates", it said.The two sides further reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing and future cooperation to ensure a stable cyberspace environment and to prevent cyber attacks.

Additionally, India and the United States are close to signing an agreement that would ensure communications between their two militaries are compatible and secure.

Certainly, the Chinese have brought India and the U.S. much closer.

"This is an important agreement and will be an advantage to India in the naval area. That doesn't mean we can't be partners", he told reporters regarding the S-400 purchase.

"What the protocol will be in sharing information linked to non-US systems is something that is not yet clear", he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the two sides discussed the US sanctions against Iran, a nation India relies on as an energy supplier. It has since been pressuring Iran's crude clients to halt their purchases from the Islamic Republic.

"In our meeting today, we also agreed to work together to secure India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group at the earliest", she said. Clearly, the Indian establishment sees in the developing regional power dynamic an opportunity to boost Indian military capabilities by exploiting the US' growing rivalries with China.

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"The US and India already have that foundation in our commitment to a safe, secure, prosperous, and free Indo-Pacific region, where sovereignty of all nations is respected, worldwide norms are upheld, disputes are resolved peacefully, and nations freely transit global waters and airspace, and further to borrow Prime Minister Modi's words again, nations are free from impossible debt burdens imposed by others", he said.

Pompeo said the USA values its relationship with India, and noted "we fully support India's rise".

New Delhi, one of the biggest buyers of Iranian crude, will have to find measures to nullify the effect of United States sanctions on Iran.

Mr Pompeo and Mr Mattis will also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the visit.

India is also seeking to avoid USA sanctions on those who do business with Russia's military and intelligence sectors.

Most of India's weapons are Russian-made, a legacy of India's Cold War relationship with the Soviet Union.

In Islamabad, Pompeo and Dunford met Pakistan's newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The two countries have for decades jostled for influence in war-torn Afghanistan.

It will also allow the installation of high-security U.S. communication equipment on defence platforms being sourced from the US.

However, a new defence bill proposes giving the US president authority to grant waivers when national security interests are at stake.

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