Tensions, Many Exacerbated by Trump, Overshadow High-Level U.S. Talks in India

Indo-US 2+2 Dialogue a Chance to Address Specifics in Context of Larger Geo Political Goals

U.S. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meet with their counterparts Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Indian Minister of Defense Nirmala Sitharaman for the 2+2 meeting at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, India, Sept. 6, 2018.

US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis arrived separately and was received at the airport by his counterpart, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and other senior officials.

"The ministers announced their intent to increase information-sharing efforts on known or suspected terrorists and to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2396 on returning foreign terrorist fighters", a joint statement issued after the talks said.

India and the U.S. would continue discussions on New Delhi reducing oil imports from Iran, said people familiar with the developments. In both countries, they have a strong technological bent in India, so this two-way street, not a one-way.

The U.S. and India also agreed to hold a new military exercise.

"That doesn't mean we can't be partners".

Mattis said he and Pompeo, during the talks, gave insights on a range of issues from the North Korea sanction enforcement to counter terror cooperation, recognising that both the nations have endured the effects of senseless terrorist strikes like the one on Mumbai which killed innocents from more than a dozen countries.

India and the US will also hold a first-ever tri service joint exercise on the east coast of India in 2019, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced.

The Americans are also believed to have come to terms with India building a port in Iran's Chabahar, thereby busting US-led sanctions against Iran - clearly, the Indian port-building will be carried out with USA permission.

India, however, is highly reliant on Iranian crude imports.

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The format was first agreed to previous year, during a visit to the US by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Sitharaman at the press conference had said: "We have acquired various advanced defence platforms from the US".

"That vote and the subsequent section 123 civil nuclear agreement opened a path for our strategic relations to grow, bolster defence and commercial cooperation and expanded our people-to-people ties", Pompeo said. Data acquired through such systems can not be disclosed or transferred to any person or entity without India's consent.

Mattis, meanwhile, said India is a "stabilizing force on the region's geographic frontlines".

According to the Wall Street Journal, the agreement will allow sharing of "encrypted military intelligence", and is a prerequisite if India wishes to buy advanced USA military equipment.

Experts believe the signing of the COMCASA agreement could also reduce the chances of the United States imposing sanctions on India for looking to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

Europe, Russia, and China are now working with Iran to map out a potential course without the US.

In its latest National Security Strategy report and National Defense Strategy report, the White House listed India as its important strategic and defense partner in the Indo-Pacific region.

Most recently, the USA has taken issue with India's purchase of oil from Iran and its planned acquisition of a Russian missile defense system.

"We fully support India's rise as a leading global power", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the start of the summit.

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