In the first high-level visit from any country following the Lok Sabha polls, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo will be in India from June 25-27 and hold talks with the leadership here to strengthen the strategic partnership. His visit comes ahead of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28-29.
During his visit, Pompeo would hold talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and call upon other dignitaries, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing.
“We look upon the visit as an important opportunity for both sides to further strengthen the India-US strategic partnership and continue high-level engagement on matters of mutual interest, including bilateral, regional and global issues,” Kumar said.
“This is the first high-level engagement between India and the US following the elections. This is also the first incoming high-level visit from any country. We look upon this visit as an opportunity to discuss all the issues which will be on the table,” he said.
Pompeo Thursday also spoke with Jaishankar and underscored the Trump administration’s strong commitment to work closely with India to advance the bilateral strategic partnership.
State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Secretary Pompeo and External Affairs Minister Jaishankar discussed shared US and Indian objectives in safeguarding a free and open Indo-Pacific, US India security cooperation, and the US-India economic partnership.
Kumar said that during the talks here most of the issues under the bilateral framework will be discussed and there will be some talks on regional as well as global issues of mutual interest.
Asked about media reports on the US considering caps on H-1B work visa, Kumar said, “We have not heard anything officially from the US government. We continue to reiterate and engage with the US government on this matter.”
On whether the issue will be taken up with Pompeo during his visit here, Kumar said it would not be right to speculate on the agenda of his meetings here.
“There is no (official) report as such. There is no US official who has come up with a statement. It is a source-based report. We have not yet heard anything from the US government on this. We remain engaged with the US administration, we remain engaged with the Congress on this issue,” Kumar said.
India has emphasised time and again at interactions at all levels the contribution of Indian skilled professionals to the growth and development of the US economy, he said.
Kumar said it is important to understand that in a relationship that is as deep as it is with the US, there will be certain issues that will be on the table at all times.
“We should look at this relationship from the overall perspective. The overall direction of the relationship remains very positive,” he said.
Citing the popular election slogan “Modi hai to mumkin hai”, Pompeo last week 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 last Wednesday.
Referring to the speech, Kumar said despite all the talk of trade issues, bilateral trade has grown to USD 150 billion.
He cited developments such as seven-fold increase in bilateral trade since 2001, India being granted a major defence partner status, and US supporting India for a permanent seat in the Security Council, to assert that ties were on an upswing.
Whatever issues are there will be appropriately discussed between the two sides, the MEA spokesperson said.
On the issue of data localisation, Kumar said there are consultations taking place both within the government and also between the government and industry.
“We will remain engaged with the US on this matter and see how we can dispel any misconception on data localisation that they may have,” he said.
Apart from India, Pompeo will also travel to Sri Lanka, Japan and South Korea from June 24 to 30.
His four-nation tour is aimed at deepening the US partnerships in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.