US secretary of state Mike Pompeo will start a three-nation tour from June 24 to advance the “shared goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific”, a phrase used to describe concern in the region about an aggressive China, and his first stop will be New Delhi, the state department announced Monday.
This will a first India visit by any member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term.
“I am pleased to announce that Secretary Pompeo will travel to the Indo-Pacific region on June 24th through the 30th to broaden and deepen our partnership with key countries to advance our shared goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” state department Morgan Ortagus told reporters.
“Prime Minister Modi’s recent election victory provides an excellent opportunity for him to implement his vision for a strong and prosperous India that plays a leading role on the global stage.”
The secretary of state is expected to speak in detail about elements of the visit in a speech at an annual summit hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce on ties with India on Wednesday. “I’ll be speaking to a group of Indian business leaders in preparation for the trip that I’ll take in a couple weeks where I’ll be visiting India, an important part of President Trump’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific,” Pompeo said to reporters.
“And I’m looking forward to the opportunity both to give the set of remarks about how it is our relationship is so closely tied economically, but also importantly the things that the United States and India can continue to do to build out what is an incredibly important relationship for both countries,” he said.
This will be Pompeo’s second visit to India as secretary of state but his first stand-alone. He was last in India in September for the inaugural edition of the 2+2 ministerial meeting, with then Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
After the India leg of his tour, Pompeo will visit Colombo and then Osaka for a G-20 summit before visiting South Korea with President Trump.
Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to meet President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for their second trilateral meeting on the sidelines of two-day G-20 summit which begins on June 28. The Indian and American leaders could also meet separately for a bilateral, a pull-aside or a sit-down.
These meetings, first in New Delhi and then in Osaka, will take place amid both deepening strategic and economic ties — including a massive spike in defense sales to India — and growing trade tensions. Earlier this month, the United Stated terminated India’s eligibility for a special trade status that allowed $6 billion worth of Indian goods into the United States duty-free in 2018. More severe trade actions are said to be on the anvil as the Trump administration tries to push India to open up its medical devices and dairy products markets.
President Trump complained about high Indian tariffs on Monday again in an interview to CNBC. He reiterated his headline-grabbing case about 100% duty on high-end Harley-Davidson motorbikes exported to India from the United States and the one phone call to Prime Minister Modi that led to India cutting the tariff by half.
Jun 11, 2019 08:46 IST