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‘Important to have early results on trade issues for larger India-US ties’: Jaishankar meets Pompeo

Trade tensions between India and the US have been rising with American President Donald Trump complaining that tariffs imposed by New Delhi on American products were ‘no longer acceptable’.

PTI | Washington |

It is important for the larger India-US relationship to have some early results to address concerns on the trade issues between the two countries, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his American counterpart Mike Pompeo agreed here during a meeting.

Trade tensions between India and the US have been rising with American President Donald Trump complaining that tariffs imposed by New Delhi on American products were “no longer acceptable”.

President Trump, championing his ‘America First’ policy, has been a vocal critic of India for levying “tremendously high” duties on US products. He has described India as a “tariff king”.

Jaishankar met Pompeo on Monday and they held talks on several bilateral, regional and global issues.

“Both of us felt that while trade issues have progressed, for the larger relationship it was important (that) we see some early results out there,” Jaishankar told reporters about his meeting with Pompeo.

Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representatives Robert Lighthizer are talking to each other and discussing the details on how to address some of the trade issues between the two countries, he said.

Jaishankar refrained from sharing details of the trade talks, noting that this is an ongoing negotiation.

Describing his meeting with Pompeo as “very comfortable one”, Jaishankar said part of it was about discussing various bilateral issues.

“In a way we were doing stock taking of Prime Minister’s meeting with (President) Donald Trump (in New York) last week,” he said.

Over the next two days, Jaishankar is scheduled to meet for the first time the new Defense Secretary Mike Esper and also with the new National Security Advisor Robert Charles O’Brien to discuss a range of bilateral, regional and global issues.

On his maiden visit to the American capital in his capacity as the External Affairs Minister, Jaishankar is also scheduled to meet the Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

On October 2, he will attend an event at US Library of Congress to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, which would be attended by Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and several other lawmakers.

“Congress has been really the most supportive of all the institutions in America in the last 25-30 years,” he said.

The top Indian diplomat will interact with over half a dozen top think-tanks in addition to the members of the corporate world at two different sessions being hosted by US India Business Council and US India Strategic and Partnership Forum.

The idea is to “share with them” the thinking of the Indian government post-election.

He is also scheduled to interact with members of the Atlantic Council, Heritage Foundation and Brookings Institute.

He is scheduled to address the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think-tank.

On Monday, Jaishankar interacted with members of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He also met Senator Chris Van Hollen.

They also discussed “immediate region” and the larger Asian landscape, including South East Asia and the Gulf.

In March, US Trade Representative Lighthizer announced that the US will terminate India’s designation as beneficiary developing country under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme.

India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products including almonds and apples from June 5, after the Trump Administration revoked its preferential trade privileges.