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US Secretary of State meets PM Modi in New Delhi, holds talks to iron out thorny issues

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday in New Delhi to discuss several contentious issues as well as ways to strengthen the India-US ties.

Pompeo also met Foreign Minister S Jaishankar to prepare the groundwork for the summit level meeting between US President Donald Trump and PM Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan on July 28. Jaishankar will also accompany PM Modi for the summit.

"Working together to further deepen our strategic partnership. Secretary Pompeo called on PM Narendra Modi to exchange views on various aspects of Indo-US relationship. PM will meet President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 Osaka Summit," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted along with pictures of the meeting.

The US secretary will also meet National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval to hold discussion on key issues of terrorism and national security.

Jaishankar who will host a working lunch for Pompeo on Wednesday afternoon said that India will try to find common ground on trade issues during their discussions.

"We will be meeting with a positive attitude...The meeting with Mike Pompeo will be an important one. We will definitely discuss issues related to trade between the two countries," Mr Jaishankar told reporters on Tuesday. "Both the countries are having their own interests. And it is natural to have some conflicts because of that. We will find a common ground using diplomacy. We will hold discussions with the US with a positive approach," he added.

This is the first high-level engagement between India and US government and comes at a time when both the countries have a lot of thorny issues to iron out. Other issues expected to be discussed between the two sides are Indo-US trade relations, S-400 deal, H-1B visa, defence purchases, terrorism and Pakistan.

However, India's biggest concern is how to deal with US sanctions against Iran and Russia. According to diplomatic sources, India will make its stance clear to the US on its $5.2 billion S-400 air-defence missile deal with Russia despite the threat of US invoking the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

"We have a long-standing defence relationship with Russia which we cannot wish away," a source told IndiaToday. "The US is well aware of and appreciative of our requirements. Legislation is very clear on issues such as under what circumstances can a waiver be given under CAATSA. The US administration has enough flexibility to give a waiver to India on CAATSAA sanctions on purchase of S-400 air defence system," added the source.

The two sides are also going to focus on various aspects of ties from the sphere of economic, trade, defence, terrorism and security. But, there would be no signing of agreements or deals during this visit.

As a run up to the Jaishankar-Pompeo meet, Kenneth I Juster, Ambassador of USA to India met Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman in Finance Ministry. Tariffs by India on goods was also discussed in the meeting.

Pompeo will also interact with Indian and US businesses at a round table meet and deliver a policy speech at the India International Centre in Delhi Wednesday evening.

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