India-Russia deal for S-400 missile didn’t figure in Modi-Trump talks

Narendra Modi, Donald Trump, G20 Summit, Osaka, Japan, The Federal, English news website
Prime Minister Modi met with President Trump shortly after the Japan-America-India trilateral meeting in Osaka. Photo/ANI.

India on Friday (June 28) said that its decision to purchase S-400 missile defence system from Russia did not figure during the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump, though they discussed ways to step up the bilateral military cooperation.

The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system. China was the first foreign buyer to seal a government-to-government deal with Russia in 2014 for the system. India and Russia signed a USD 5 billion S-400 air defence system deal in October last year.

Modi, who is in Osaka, Japan for the G20 Summit, met with Trump shortly after the Japan-America-India trilateral meeting during which Modi highlighted “the importance India attaches to” the grouping. This was Modi’s first meeting with Trump after the BJP’s landslide win in the parliamentary election.

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The meeting assumes significance as Trump, championing his ‘America First’ policy, has been a vocal critic of India for levying “tremendously high” duties on US products. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said that India purchasing the S-400 missile defence system from Russia did not come up during the talks between the two leaders.

“This was a very open and productive meeting. The two leaders had a very warm discussion. President Trump congratulated Prime Minister Modi on his victory and Prime Minister in particular noted that Trump had sent a very warm letter to him through Secretary of State (Mike) Pompeo,” he said.

Four issues were taken up during the bilateral meeting. “The issues were related to Iran, 5G, trade, and defence relations. As far as Iran was concerned, the Prime Minister outlined our energy concerns as well as concerns regarding peace and stability in the region,” Gokhale said.

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“The Prime Minister pointed out that although Iran supplies 11 per cent of India’s energy, India has reduced oil imports from Iran… Despite this affecting the Indian economy, we have been able to sustain this position and we also had our diaspora in the region, we have energy requirements in the region, we have economic interest in the region, therefore it is in India’s fundamental interest to maintain peace and stability in the region,” he said.

Modi also recalled that India has deployed some of the Indian Navy ships in the region to protect the Indian flagged vessels passing through the Gulf, Gokhale said. The President expressed his hope that the oil prices will remain stable; he talked about what the US was doing to ensure that stability is maintained in the Gulf that oil prices were stable.

The Foreign Secretary said that both sides also agreed that they will remain in touch on the issue of Iran and on how to ensure regional peace and stability. The US in the past has warned that New Delhi’s deal to procure the lethal missile system from Moscow will have “serious implications” on the India-US defence ties.

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