India yesterday told the US that it will go by its national interest while dealing with other countries, including with sanctions-hit Russia from whom New Delhi is procuring S-400 missile defence systems.
This was conveyed by Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to his American counterpart Mike Pompeo during an extensive bilateral meeting in New Delhi.
However, Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India, promising a renewed focus on negotiating improved trade and investment ties between the two nations.
In a joint press interaction, Pompeo said India is an important partner of the US and that the bilateral ties were reaching new heights.
The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.
In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest US companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart last year invested $16 billion to buy control of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart.
Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.
US pressure has led India to stop buying oil from Iran, a top energy supplier. The United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
The missile deal and Iranian oil were both discussed during their meeting, Jaishankar and Pompeo said, but mentioned no resolution of either at the news conference.