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Monday 20 January 2020

‘S-400 not discussed by Modi, Trump at G20 sidelines’

The S-400 issue not figuring in the talks is surprising, as the US had urged India to look for alternatives to the Russian missile system

Osaka, Japan: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday held wide-ranging talks with US President Donald Trump and discussed ways to leverage the power of technology, improve defence and security ties as well as issues relating to trade, Iran and 5G but did not touch upon the S-400 missile deal in their bilateral meeting, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday.

“It was a very productive and open discussion. We will take things forward. There was very little discussion on defence issues. S-400 issue was not discussed. We highlighted the potential of cooperation in this area which was welcomed by President Trump,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said at a press conference here on the sidelines of the 14th G20 Summit.

This comes a few days after US Secretary of State Micheal Pompeo had said the two countries should be able to provide security for themselves. It also comes at a time when the US has put forth suggestions for India to look for alternatives to the S-400 missile system, as transactions with Russia risk triggering CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act).

At the press briefing, Gokhale said Modi and Trump agreed that they would meet at an early date to try and sort out issues pertaining to trade between the two countries.

US President Donald Trump had said ahead of his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he thinks they will have a “very big trade deal to announce”.

“The talks with @POTUS were wide-ranging. We discussed ways to leverage the power of technology, improve defence and security ties as well as issues relating to trade.

“India stands committed to further deepen economic and cultural relations with the USA,” Modi said on Twitter.

India, complying with the United States sanctions, has ended all imports of oil from Iran.

Trump congratulated Modi on his election victory and said that the two countries would work together in many areas including military.

“It was a big victory, you deserve it, you have done a great job. We have big things to announce. In terms of trade, in terms of manufacturing, we would be discussing 5G. I congratulate you and I look forward to talks,” Trump said.

“We have become great friends and our countries have never been closer. I can say that with surety. We will work together in many ways including military, we’ll be discussing trade today,” he said.

On Iran, Trump said: “We have a lot of time. There’s no rush, they can take their time. There is absolutely no time pressure”.

“PM @narendramodi and @POTUS held talks on the sidelines of the #G20 Summit in Osaka. Both leaders discussed various bilateral and global issues,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a tweet.

The two leaders met shortly after the Japan-America-India trilateral meeting during which Modi highlighted “the importance India attaches to” the grouping.

The Modi-Trump meeting assumes significance as the US president, championing his ‘America First’ policy, has been a vocal critic of India for levying “tremendously high” duties on US products.

Before his arrival in Japan on Thursday, Trump tweeted, “I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high Tariffs against the United States, just recently increased the Tariffs even further. This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!”

This was Modi’s first meeting with Trump after the BJP’s landslide win in the parliamentary election.

India has raised tariffs on 28 items, including almond, pulses and walnut, exported from the US in retaliation to America’s withdrawal of preferential access for Indian products.

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