India, US discuss trade, defence, visas, oil in first '2+2' dialogue

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India is expected to convey to the United States during the upcoming "two-plus-two" talks that it is going ahead with the Rs 400 billion deal with Russian Federation to procure a batch of S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems, notwithstanding the American sanctions on military transactions with Moscow, official sources said Sunday. The sources said text of the agreement is nearly ready.

As part of this arrangement, the USA will most likely gain access to data generated from India. "I think that we're pretty much there already, on the American side", Mattis added.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, is greeted by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj upon arrival at the airport in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018.

While finer details are still being worked out, some experts have cautioned that signing the deal might expose India's critical security communication to the United States. In the first edition of the two-plus-two talks, the two sides also discussed cross-border terrorism, India's bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the contentious H1B visa issue, and ways to deepen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. Defense cooperation "has emerged as the most significant dimension of our strategic partnership and a key driver of our overall bilateral relationship", she said Thursday.

India also plans to buy the Russian-made S-400 air defense missile system, putting it at odds with US systems.

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He also stressed on promoting market-based economics and good governance.

Both sides said they were happy with the progress made so far. The two nations, holding their first two-plus-two dialogue in New Delhi, also called on Islamabad to bring to justice expeditiously the perpetrators of Mumbai, Pathankot and Uri attacks.

India and the USA would continue discussions on New Delhi reducing oil imports from Iran, said people familiar with the developments.

India wants to procure the long-range missile systems to tighten its air defence mechanism, particularly along the almost 4,000-km-long Sino-India border.

"Recognizing their rapidly growing military-to-military ties, the two sides committed to the creation of a new, tri-services exercise and to further increase personnel exchanges between the two militaries and defense organizations", a joint statement from India and the USA said.

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Sushma Swaraj will have a separate bilateral meeting with Mike Pompeo while Nirmala Sitharaman will have a one-on-one meeting with James Mattis on Thursday morning before the delegation-level two-plus-two talks.

Iran reached a deal with originally six world powers in 2015, agreeing to curb its nuclear program in return for mainly the lifting of restrictions on its oil sales.

If the United States decides to implement sanctions against India due to their purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems, then all three countries will lose, Indian political expert and distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation Nandan Unnikrishnan told TASS on Thursday. The U.S.is now India's second-largest weapons supplier.

Some sanctions came in effect on August 6 and the rest, notably in the petroleum sector, will take hold on November 4.

"Our position on the issue will be conveyed to the United States", said a high-level official source. The mechanism was agreed upon by US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone in August previous year, but will only materialize after being cancelled twice for various reasons in April and July.

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