US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers on Friday, that to strengthen US-India relationship, India ought to be central for US policy on South and Central Asia. Responding to questions from Sen. Chris Coons, Sec. Pompeo told 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."
As the US-India relationship enjoys bipartisan support in the US Congress, Sec. Mike Pompeo also urged the Congress to provide the necessary national security waiver so that its sanctions on Russia under CAATSA does not impact other countries, including India. In effect since January 2018, CAATSA is a US federal law, that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. The law also imposes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors. India is planning to purchase five S-400 Triumf air defense systems for around $4.5 billion from Russia to tighten its air defense mechanism, particularly along the nearly 4,000-km-long Sino-India border.
“Will you make a commitment that you'll help Defense Secretary Jim Mattis get the waivers that he needs in order to make sure that these sanctions don't hit folks that were not intended to be harmed by these sanctions?" Pompeo asked Senator Robert Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the Congressional hearing.
Sec. of State Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mattis are expected to host their Indian counterparts External affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman this summer for an US-India bilateral dialogue.
Mr. Sanjay Puri, Chairman of USINPAC remarked, “The India-US relations are grounded on a set of shared values and commitment to rules-based order. USINPAC upholds these principles and urges Congress to accommodate India in achieving a greater US-India partnership.”
The US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) is the voice of over 3.2 million Indian- Americans and works on issues that concern the community. It supports candidates for local, state and federal office and encourages political participation by the Indian- American community. Visit www.usinpac.com for more details.