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13 Jun, 2019 09:03

Pompeo woos India with ‘secure’ 5G, arms sales & nuke project after recent tensions

Pompeo woos India with ‘secure’ 5G, arms sales & nuke project after recent tensions

As the US warns India against buying Russian anti-air systems, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is gearing up for a trip to New Delhi, where he will try to sell American 5G tech, LNG gas, and arms to Narendra Modi’s government.

Adamant that India and the US share a common vision “throughout the Indo-Pacific,” Washington wants New Delhi to prove its commitment to US interests by purchasing an entire lineup of US products and services, Mike Pompeo hinted on Wednesday ahead of his trip to the country on June 25.

Pompeo also wants India to end its reliance on Venezuelan and Iranian crude by purchasing Liquefied Natural Gas and constructing six US-made nuclear power plants.

“We want to complete the Westinghouse civil nuclear project, and deliver more LNG and crude,” Pompeo told the US-India Business Council.

“These steps will give Indians reliable, affordable, diversified energy independence so they will no longer have to rely on difficult regimes like those in Venezuela and in Iran.”

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Trying to outmaneuver Chinese telecom giant Huawei from capturing India’s telecommunication markets, Pompeo also stressed that, “we are eager to help India establish secure communications networks – including 5G networks,” noting that the US is committed to “protect data and secure consumers’ privacy.”

While acknowledging that Washington “respect[s] India as a truly sovereign, important country,” the chief diplomat made no secret that the military industrial complex expects India to purchase more American military hardware, at a time when the South Asian nation is making a push to secure arms from Russia, including the S-400 air-defense system.

“Lockheed Martin’s F-21 and Boeing’s F/A-18 are state-of-the-art fighters that could give India the capabilities it needs to become a full-fledged security provider throughout the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

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Despite Pompeo’s optimism, his visit will come amid escalating trade tensions, as the US seeks to reduce the US’ $21-billion deficit with India. President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused India of ‘unfair’ trade practices and refusing to buy more American products.

Just ahead of Pompeo’s visit, Trump excluded India from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program which allowed the country to export around $5.6 billion worth of its goods to the US duty free.

The two nations have also locked horns over India’s decision to ink an estimated $5 billion deal with Moscow to purchase S-400 anti-air systems. Since then, the US has been pressing India to buy American equipment instead, offering Patriot and THAAD missiles as an alternative. Washington has repeatedly threatened to impose sanctions on India to prevent the sale from going forward.

New Delhi has dismissed the threats, stating that it would not be told what to do and “follows an independent policy.”

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