Mike Pompeo seeks to strengthen strategic ties despite trade friction with India

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Despite trade friction underway between India and the United States, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will seek to further strengthen strategic ties with India during a visit next week.

Pompeo will arrive in New Delhi on Tuesday for talks ahead of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the week at a G20 meeting in Japan.

India is embroiled in disputes with the United States over tariffs, Indian price caps on imported medical devices, most from the United States, and Indian rules on e-commerce that impose conditions on the operations of major U.S. companies such as Amazon and Walmart.

Another issue that has alarmed India is the possibility of US restrictions on work visas for Indian professionals in retaliation for India’s insistence on local data storage by big foreign firms, even though the State Department said on Thursday it had no such plan.

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“U.S.-India trade ties, at least between our capitals, are certainly worsening. We both have leaders who look at trade as a zero-sum game,” said Richard Rossow, a US-India expert at Washington’s the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has repeatedly criticised India for its high tariffs and last month raised the stakes with the withdrawal of a decades-old trade privilege.

Indian and US officials said trade would be addressed during Mike Pompeo’s visit but emphasised the broader political and security relationship.

“There will be certain issues between us that will be on the table at all points of time,” an Indian government official said. “But it should not detract from the overall direction of the relationship, which is positive.”

(With agencies input)

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