US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “new kind of leader for the world’s most populous democracy” quoting the popular election slogan “Modi hai to mumkin hai”.
Pompeo is set to visit India later this month as PM Modi and US President Donald Trump will meet during the G-20 Summit on June 28 and 29 in Osaka, Japan.
He has sought to take the bilateral relationship with India to the next level and said the Trump and Modi administrations have a “unique opportunity” to make it happen.
“As Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi said in his latest campaign, ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai,’ or ‘Modi makes it possible’, I’m looking forward to exploring what’s possible between our people,” Pompeo said in his major India policy speech at the India Ideas Summit of US-India Business Council on Wednesday.
Mike Pompeo will travel to India, Sri Lanka, Japan and South Korea from June 24 to 30. His four-nation is aimed at deepening US partnerships in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
Pompeo has described India as “an important part of President Trump’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific”.
Pompeo said under President Donald Trump, the US has taken defence cooperation to newer heights, solidified their common vision for the Indo-Pacific and taken a far tougher stance on Pakistan’s unacceptable support for terrorism.
Now the Trump and Modi Administrations have a “unique opportunity to take this special partnership even further”, Pompeo said he has a strong partner in his new counterpart, Jaishankar – a former ambassador to the United States.
“Forging strong ties means formalizing these individual friendships. Last year, we kicked off the ‘2+2 dialogue’ alongside the Department of Defence. We’ve also reinvigorated the Quad Dialogue among India, the United States, Japan, and Australia – all like-minded democracies in the Indo-Pacific. These are all good steps,” he said.
India and the US, he said, must embrace the strategic framework that works for both the nations. “We respect India as a sovereign power, with its own unique politics and strategic challenges. We realise it’s different to deal with the likes of China or Pakistan from across an ocean than across a border,” he said.
Making a strong case for a free and open Indo-Pacific, he said it starts from the premise that the two share common values of democracy, freedom, and a belief in the ingenuity of the human spirit. “It’s only natural that the world’s most populous democracy should partner with the world’s oldest democracy to maintain their shared vision for the Indo-Pacific.” “Third, we have to deliver,” Mike Pompeo said.
The visit comes at a time when India has been criticised by Donald Trump on various trade matters.
Earlier this month, Trump had announced the termination of India’s preferential trade status claiming that India has not assured the US that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets.
He also criticised India several times over high import duties on Harley Davidson motorcycles.
The US had recently ended US waiver for India to import oil from Iran. Trump administration had told India, China, Turkey and a few other oil customers of Iran that no waiver on sanctions would be granted to them after 1 May, ending six months of exception to the sanctions.
(With agency inputs)