BY ARUL LOUIS
New York, June 21 (IANS) Ahead of his New Delhi visit, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday to convey "strong US commitment to working closely with the new Indian government to advance our strategic partnership", according to his spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
Pompeo, who begins a three-day visit to New Delhi next Tuesday, congratulated Jaishankar on becoming the external affairs minister and discussed security and economic cooperation between the two countries with Jaishankar, she said in a statement.
"Secretary Pompeo and Minister Jaishankar also discussed shared US and Indian objectives in safeguarding a free and open Indo-Pacific, US-India security cooperation, and the US-India economic partnership", Ortagus said.
Pompeo's visit will be the first high-level meeting between the two countries after the Lok Sabha elections returned Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a stronger mandate.
On Wednesday, Pompeo cancelled a visit to Sri Lanka next week citing "unavoidable scheduling conflicts".
Earlier in New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "Secretary Pompeo's visit will provide an opportunity and importance for both sides to explore ways to further strengthen India-US strategic partnership and continue the high-level engagement on matters of mutual interest, including bilateral, regional, and global issues.
"We look at this visit as an opportunity to discuss the issues which will be on the table," he said.
Key bilateral issues, like trade, are expected to be discussed at the meeting between Pompeo and Jaishankar.
Bilateral trade between India and US has almost touched $150 billion and there has been a growth every year in the last few years, Kumar said, adding there has been a seven-fold increase since 2001.
"There are 500 US companies operating in India", he said. "The contribution of Indian-Americans in the growth of US has been recognized by the US leadership. US has supported India for the permanent member of the (UN) Security Council. Last year, we held a two-plus-two dialogue (between Foreign and Defence Ministers/Secretaries). There is lot of cooperation going on in the high technology trade. So, there is plenty of action going on between India and US bilateral relationship."
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @arulouis)