India, US hold inaugural edition of 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi

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India and the United States on Thursday sealed the landmark Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that will lead to a new generation of bilateral military partnership.

India would not stop Iranian imports but would finalize its strategy on crude buys after this week's high-level meeting of US state and defense secretaries, Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis, and India's foreign and defense ministers, Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman, an Indian official told Reuters last month.

India Thursday signed a path-breaking agreement with the U.S. which will allow Indian defence forces to receive military-grade communications equipment from the United States and ensure access to real-time encrypted information. Furthermore, the agreement will facilitate better synchronization of American military platforms in the Indian armed forces, and open the door for future transfers of high-end military equipment.

But with trade and strategic ties growing quickly between the United States and India, both countries have been keen to downplay potential diplomatic troubles.

A U.S. law, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, threatens to impinge on India's massive defence trade with Russian Federation.

In another article in the magazine, think-tank scholars Atman Trivedi and Aparna Pande argued that just as the U.S. is warming up to India, India is starting to get cold feet about the whole idea.

During the 2+2 Dialogue, officials from India and the United States look forward to discussing diplomatic and security issues. "India doesn't want to wreck the relationship for the S-400", he said.

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New Delhi, one of the biggest buyers of Iranian crude, will have to find measures to nullify the effect of U.S. sanctions on Iran. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's political and foreign-policy interests in deepening U.S. ties are clear. "We have also discussed the H-1B visa issue".

India is also in talks with Russian Federation to buy five advanced S-400 long-range, surface-to-air missile systems, a possible deal that could face rough weather under new USA sanctions.

In Islamabad, Pompeo and Dunford met Pakistan's newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Terming the rapidly growing trade and investment ties as an important element of bilateral relationship, Swaraj said this growth is giving rise to new opportunities and a basis for more intense economic engagement which supports development of manufacturing, promotes knowledge and innovation, creates jobs and provides critical resources for growth.

But C. Raja Mohan, one of India's top foreign policy analysts and the director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, noted that US-India ties have strengthened immensely over the past couple decades, and Trump has ramped up diplomatic pressure on India's main rivals, Pakistan and China, earning him plenty of goodwill.

The impulse to strengthen ties with India also perhaps explains why the USA downplayed its concerns over New Delhi trading with Moscow and Tehran. They are part of the relationship. "But the gap will remain and I urge them to do all they can to narrow it".

India will continue to walk a tightrope between Washington and its traditional allies.

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