New Delhi – India this week confirmed without mincing words that as an independent nation it will do what is in its national interest.
The diplomatic but firm comment from Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar came during a press availability with the visiting US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo.
Asked to comment on if the India’s decision to purchase S-400 missile defense system from Russia could trigger US sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) instituted by the US Congress on arms purchases from Russia, Jaishankar responded, “On the CAATSA issue, again, I think Secretary Pompeo knows, and I’ve explained to him in some detail – I mean, we have many relationships with many countries.”
Without naming Russia or S-400 missile defense system purchase, Jaishankar elaborated: “Many of them are of some standing, they have a history. So I think we will do what is in our national interest, and again, part of that strategic partnership is the ability of each country to comprehend and appreciate the national interest of the other.”
On his part, Secretary Pompeo also left the door open. “We are endeavoring to make sure that each of our countries can provide security for itself. We want India to be able to do that as well,” said Pompeo.
Combining it with the issue of trade hiccups, Pompeo was optimistic saying: “We will find a way to work through them, and I know that when we come out on the other side of each of those, the relationship will be stronger and we’ll have done great things together.”
But before the departure of Pompeo for India, a Senior State Department Official had commented to a “select group of journalists” – who were also not identified in the report – that India’s decision to purchase S-400 missile defense system from Russia is a major issue.
“The S-400 is significant because of CAATSA sanctions. It’s also significant because of what it precludes, in terms of future high-tech cooperation,” the official was quoted in the Indian media report. (US Confirms Comments on S-400 Missile System Sale to India)
It is worth noting that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was re-elected with a thumping majority in the general elections, is expected to take certain tough decisions for his country as he had negotiated and sealed a $5 billion S-400 air defense system deal in October last after wide-ranging talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.