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Pompeo arrives India amid irritants over Indo-Russia arms deal
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Pompeo arrives India amid irritants over Indo-Russia arms deal

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New Delhi, Jun 26: US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo arrived here on Tuesday evening on a three-day visit for crucial meetings with External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a time when India and the US have made dramatic improvements in ties but also face serious challenges over data flows, Indo-Russia arms deal and trade issues.

"Resuming engagement with a valuable strategic partner after elections," tweeted MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar tweeted shortly after Pompeo arrived India. The visit will mark "exchange of views on a range of bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest", MEA spokesman said.

"A big welcome to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It’s great to have you and your team in India. We look forward to excellent meetings to advance the U.S.-India strategic partnership," Ken Juster, US envoy to India tweeted. Terrorism, Afghanistan related issues, Iran-US conflict, trade issues between India and the US, Indo Pacific Region and other matters will figure at the US Secretary of State Pompeo's parleys with Dr Jaishankar on Wednesday.

"We should look beyond MoUs. The maximum benefits we can get out of this talk is what goes inside the hall and not what happens outside. Therefore, we should not look at Pompeo's visit to India - first since the re-election of the Modi government - not from the point of view of how many MoUs have been inked or otherwise," a diplomatic source said here. External Affairs Minister earlier in the day said: "We will be meeting (Mr Pompeo) with a positive attitude". The visit is also linked to preparing ground for Narendra Modi-Donald Trump bilateral talks on June 28 in Japan on the sidelines of G20 Summit.

A diplomatic source said here - "What I have seen is that in most of our conversations with the US, terrorism and cross border terrorism is an inescapable issue.....So, I expect this issue to be high on agenda". Mr Pompeo notably arrived here hours after President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Iran that any attack on “anything American” would be met with “great and overwhelming force”. Iranian officials have slammed fresh US sanctions as permanently closing the path to diplomacy. Iran’s leadership “doesn’t understand the words ‘nice’ or ‘compassion,’ they never had,” Mr Trump said in a series of tweets.

On the eve of US Secretary of State's visit sources in Indian government remained optimistic that there could be a 'US waiver' vis-a-vis Indian deal with the Russians for the defence system. Sources also said here that the long standing defence relations between India and Russia cannot be wished away. Mr Pompeo also made an unannounced trip to Kabul before he landed in Delhi.

Mr Pompeo will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was re-elected for a second term with an enhanced mandate and observers feel the renewed mandate has given the Modi government the green signal to take bold reforms to propel India towards faster growth.

"Great visit to Afghanistan today with productive discussions on the Afghan Peace Process and the need for credible elections with President @ashrafghani, CEO @afgexecutive, former President @KarzaiH, political parties, security forces and civil society, including women’s groups," Mr Pompeo tweeted.

He also wrote about constructive meetings in Jeddah and Abu Dhabi. The U.S., Saudi Arabia, and UAE are committed to a global coalition that strengthens peace, security, and prosperity in Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world, he wrote. The US side is also expected to "assure" the Indian leadership that Washington have no plans to place caps on H-1B work.

"On H-1B, we attach great importance to the U.S.-India relationship. Indians have contributed under the H-1B program to the U.S. economy....There is a broad review of the H-1B program underway, but this review is not targeted at India. It’s completely separate from our ongoing discussions with India about the importance of ensuring better trade," the US official has said in Washington last week. UNI