New Delhi: Talks between visiting US secretary of state Michael Pompeo and external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday focused on the entire gamut of bilateral ties, including the terror issue, the S-400 India-Russia missile deal, trade disputes, Iran and Afghanistan, with both sides hailing their “great relationship” and the “big picture” despite the sharp differences on some issues.
At a joint press conference after the talks, India indicated it was going ahead with the S-400 missile deal with Russia despite US concerns, with Mr Jaishankar saying New Delhi would act in “its national interests” and had relationships with other nations that were of “standing” with a “history”.
Mr Pompeo also pushed for religious freedom in his address in the evening, saying India was the home of four of the world’s religions. This interestingly comes after New Delhi rejected a US state department report on religious freedom that made certain adverse comments about India.
“India is the birthplace of four major world religions. Let’s stand up together for religious freedom for all, let’s speak out strongly together in favour of those rights for whenever we do compromise those rights, the world is worse off,” Mr Pompeo said in his ‘India policy speech’ at the India International Centre here.
In the presence of Mr Jaishankar, Mr Pompeo termed Iran as the “biggest state sponsor” of terror while it is well known that for India, it is Pakistan that has been the main sponsor of state terrorism.
He also hailed India’s move to “cut off oil imports from Iran”, while he accused Tehran of “attacking oil tankers” in the Persian Gulf region. The US has also reportedly assured India that it would have adequate energy supplies....