India-Russia S-400 missile deal not discussed during PM Modi-Trump talks

799714-modi-trump-japanOsaka: India’s ministry of external affairs said on Friday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United States President Donald Trump held a “very fruitful and open dialogue” on a range of issues including trade, tensions with Iran, and 5G technology, but did not touch upon the S-400 missile deal in their bilateral meeting.

“It was a very productive and open discussion. We will take things forward. There was very little discussion on defence issues. S-400 issue was not discussed. We highlighted the potential of cooperation in this area which was welcomed by President Trump,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said at a press conference in Osaka on the sidelines of the 14th G20 Summit.

This comes days after US Secretary of State Micheal Pompeo had said the two countries should be able to provide security for themselves.

It also comes at a time when the US has put forth suggestions for India to look for alternatives to the S-400 missile system, as transactions with Russia risk triggering CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act).

Modi and Trump agreed to sort out issues pertaining to trade

At the press briefing, Gokhale said Modi and Trump agreed that they would meet at an early date to try and sort out issues concerning the trade between the two countries.

“It was agreed that trade ministers of both countries would meet on an early date and would try to sort out these issues. Both US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and their Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were in the room. Now, we expect an early meeting,” he said.

“The Prime Minister did mention in particular that we have taken some action after the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) was revoked. That was something which already happened and now we should look forward and see how we can resolve these issues. President Trump welcomed this idea,” Gokhale added.

With regards to tensions brewing between the US and Iran, the foreign secretary said the primary focus was on ensuring stability in the region, not just in the backdrop of energy needs, but also to ensure the safety of the Indian diaspora in the Gulf.

‘On Iran primary focus was on how we ensure stability there’

“On Iran, the primary focus was on how we ensure stability there, as instability affects us in many ways, not just in a matter of energy needs, but also in terms of our large diaspora in Gulf, 8 million Indians in the Gulf and economic interests. The two leaders agreed that they and officials will continue to remain in touch to ensure that the region remains stable; that is in the interest of us and the US,” he noted.

Prime Minister Modi also tried to explore and leverage opportunities in order to achieve the goals under his flagship programme “Make in India” using 5G technology, Gokhale observed.

(With agency inputs)

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