Key Indo-US Talks Called Off Amid Trade Tensions

© AP Photo / Gurinder OsanU.S. and Indian flags. File photo
U.S. and Indian flags. File photo - Sputnik International
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Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were to hold talks with their American counterparts Mike Pompeo and James Mattis next week on economic, trade and defense issues.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – With trade tensions escalating between India and United States, the high-level 2+2 dialogue between the two countries has been called off by the US citing "unavoidable reasons."

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The cancellation comes at a time when US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is on a visit to India. In the midst of heightened trade tensions, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj Thursday night to convey the "postponement" of the high-level '2+2' talks with India scheduled for next week in Washington. No new dates for the meeting have been announced. The development was announced by the Indian External Affairs ministry in a tweet.

It is the second time that the 2+2 dialogue has been scrapped after an earlier effort to schedule it in March was unsuccessful. The two sides agreed on the 2+2 format after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met American President Donald Trump in June 2017.

A steelworker in a protective suit checks the temperature of molten metal in furnace at the TMK Ipsco Koppel plant in Koppel, Pennsylvania on March 9, 2018 - Sputnik International
India Retaliates: Higher Duties on US Farm, Steel Products Come Into Effect
India had last week announced its intentions to raise tariffs on 29 goods imported from the US in retaliation for Washington's decision to include India in its list of countries covered by higher steel and aluminum duties. 

The downturn in Indian-US relations has happened against the backdrop of a crucial meeting between US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Haley had said that her two-day visit to India was aimed at solidifying the partnership between the two countries. She also met Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.

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Apart from the ongoing trade tiff, the US administration led by Trump is pushing countries to completely eliminate oil imports from Iran. However, India and South Korea, both considered US allies, are among the largest importers of Iranian crude oil. After Washington's withdrawal from the Iran deal, India had said that it would comply only with sanctions imposed by the United Nations sanctions and not any country-specific sanctions.

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