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India expects US to grant waiver on S-400 deal with Russia

New Delhi, June 25, 2019-

India expects the US administration to grant a waiver from sanctions to its procurement of five S-400 missile defence systems from Russia over which a threat of sanctions is looming large.

India is of the firm view that the waiver can be granted by the US government as it meets the requirements prescribed in the American legislation on sanctions.

“It is an issue (with the US). There has been some discussion in private with the US government,” diplomatic sources said here on Tuesday, just ahead of the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo here for talks with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in the first high-level contact with the Modi government during its second term.

India decided to buy the five S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems from Russia in September 2018 at an estimated cost of $5.43 billion.

The US wants India to cancel the deal with Russia, failing which sanctions could be imposed.

The sources noted that the US has some concerns, which they have articulated.

However, India has “long-standing defence relations” with Russia, which “we can’t wish away”, the sources asserted. They said the deal was under discussion for a long time before it was signed in 2018.

The US is well aware of the reasons and the Indian government has explained the rationale behind the deal, the sources said.

With regard to sanctions, the sources said, the American legislation is clear about the conditions under which a waiver can be granted by the US administration.

India is confident that it meets those requirements, the sources said, adding the US administration can give a waiver, legally.

Commenting on the overall relationship between India and the US, the sources said that sometimes the ties face “collateral damage because of Russia and Iran. But there is enough resilience in the Indo-US relationship, they added.

In a relationship, there will be give-and-take, they said.

On Pompeo’s visit, the sources said that India is not looking at it from the aspect of deliverables.

The visit is to establish early connection and to know each other, they said, adding the trip is useful for input on what the two sides are going to do in future.

“We are looking beyond the MoUs in the relationship (with the US). We mostly want to see what happens inside the room, rather than what happens outside the room, in terms of MoUs,” the sources underlined.

Acknowledging that “issues” are there, they said the “broad trajectory” of the relationship, however, remains very strong.

They referred to the recent speech by Pompeo where he talked about convergence.

There has been a lot of progress in the five years and more, the sources said.

On the strategic side, there is a lot of progress, they said.

The economic issues are mostly anticipated, even as bilateral trade has reached 100 billion dollars and investment is increasing, the sources contended.

Citing examples, they said there have been concerns on H1B visa issue even though there is no change in the US policy. On data localization issue, there is no decision, the source insisted.  (Agency)

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