‘We’ll do what’s in our national interest’: Indian FM to Pompeo on buying S-400s from Russia

India’s foreign minister said New Delhi will have nothing but its own interests in mind, when following on the deal to purchase S-400 air defense missile systems from Moscow, the deal the US is strongly opposed to.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made his comments while responding to a question about the S-400 at a presser with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to New Delhi.

We have relationships with several countries, many of which are of some standing. They have a history. We will do what is in our national interest.

Earlier reports said that India planned a push to convince Pompeo to grant New Delhi a waiver on purchasing the S-400s without the risk of violating the US sanctions, placed on Moscow. Without the waiver, India may be targeted under the 2017 US law, known as CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ), which bans doing certain types of business with Russia.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin signed the $5 billion defense contract in October. US officials tried to dissuade India from acquiring the state-of-the-art Russian missile defense systems, warning that buying weapons from Moscow can impact future arms deals with Washington. The Pentagon also promised to offer India “potential alternatives” to the S-400s.

India, however, has always maintained that the deal with Russia is of strategic importance, and highlighted the long history of successful defense partnership the nations share.

Also on rt.com Allies or frenemies? Pompeo lands in India with a bag of ‘freedom’ offers one doesn’t simply refuse...

Mike Pompeo, for his part, hailed US-India relations, adding that “great friends are bound to have differences.”

India is not the only country Washington has tried to discourage from purchasing the S-400s from Russia in recent years. The US tried to make its NATO ally Turkey scrap a similar deal but Ankara refused.

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ISIS may turn its eyes to India after suffering defeats in Middle East – reports

Suffering defeats in the Middle East, Islamic State may now eye India, setting up underground cells in various states of the world’s second-largest country, a local intelligence agency has reportedly warned.

India has become increasingly vulnerable to the threat of Islamic State-inspired (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist attacks, according to NDTV, citing three intelligence letters sent to police chiefs in the state of Kerala.

“After loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, IS is urging operatives to take up violent forms of jihad while staying back in their respective countries,” reads one of the letters.

The terrorist group may also target key installations in Kochi, Kerala’s most populous city with 2 million people, another letter says. Local police officials estimate that roughly 100 Kerala residents have joined IS in the past few years, while around 3,000 have been “deradicalized” and are now under surveillance.

Also on rt.com Indian police detain 2 suicide bombers… who turn out to be Bollywood actors...

The southern state lies close to Sri Lanka, where terrorist attacks in April resulted in the deaths of over 250 Christians celebrating Easter.

The news comes after an Islamic State-affiliated mouthpiece reportedly announced the creation of the ‘Wilayah al-Hind’, or ‘Indian Province’. Shortly afterwards, the terrorist group said it had established an additional stronghold called ‘Wilayah Pakistan’.

IS once wreaked havoc in Syria and Iraq, where it established a ‘caliphate’ and enforced strict sharia rules. Now, the group is declining in the region following successful campaigns by Syrian government forces backed by Russia and the US-supported Iraqi military.

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India to stay out of US-China spat, but every ‘clash has opportunities’ – FM

Any economic fallout from the ongoing trade war between the US and China is an “opportunity” for India, its top diplomat has said. However, when it comes to picking sides, New Delhi is resolutely staying out of it.

Speaking at his first public appearance since his appointment as External Affairs Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said the escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington present a great chance for India to benefit economically.

Also on rt.com Mass exodus of US firms from China amid trade war won’t mean they’ll be coming home, survey shows...

“In every clash, there is an opportunity. There are risks also” Jaishankar said, adding that his role would be to “manage” any potential risks while ensuring the opportunities were maximized. He noted that this self-interest was not unique and still made India a force for global cooperation.

Looking out for yourself is not incompatible with doing global good or supporting a global order

However, if it ever came to choosing between Beijing and Washington, Jaishankar was adamant India would stay out of it. Recalling an exchange on the issue at an event, at which ex-CIA director David Petraeus quizzed him on allegiances; Jaishankar replied: “Sure, we have taken a side. I have taken my side.” He then told the audience that, since independence, India was used to responding to global crises.

We have always navigated the world with that sense of getting optimal outcome out of difficult landscapes.

As the trade war between the US and China rages on, experts have warned that both countries could do more harm than good to themselves, with increased costs and businesses looking to move elsewhere. A recent survey of US companies with operations in China found that 40 percent of them were looking to move their operations elsewhere. However, only 6 percent had said they are looking to move back to the US.

Also on rt.com Burden of Trump’s trade war to fall on US businesses & consumers, expert tells RT’s Boom Bust...

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As US pressures India to cut Iran oil import, Indians ask what Iranian FM can offer in rushed talks

While the plane of the Iranian Foreign Minister was landing at the New Delhi airport for unexpected talks with his Indian counterpart, Indians have been wondering about the timing and purpose of this last-moment scheduled meeting.

Javad Zarif has come at a peculiar time, in the middle of India’s general elections. If he was to wait two more weeks, he could arrange talks with a new government, but the urgency of the meeting speaks volumes.

Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif making a trip to India tomorrow. Will be interesting to note what is announced post the visit. But why now? Elections are underway in India. Two weeks later, he would have been able to have proper negotiations with the new government

But as Washington puts pressure on Iranian oil importers, some Indians agree that some issues cannot wait.

India was once Iran's top oil client after China. Then the US and sanctions stepped in. Last year India, along with seven other nations, received a waiver from Washington which allowed them to import some oil. But earlier this month, the US renewed sanctions and New Delhi had to stop any purchases of Iranian crude. But while big politics are being decided in high places, Indians themselves seem positive about Iran, with many saying India should stick to its vows to Iran.

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Obviously cheaper prices on Iranian oil, free shipping and 60 days of credit for Indian oil importers don’t harm these Iran-sympathising moods. There are alternatives to Iranian oil: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq, Mexico, and the US, but their crude is more expensive and geographically makes less sense than Iran.
India and Iran also have joint projects like the Chabahar Port, which should promote India’s influence in the region. And cutting ties with Tehran could harm this ambition. These ties are apparently close enough for Tehran to try to blackmail or bribe India into cooperation.

Also on rt.com India not rushing to buy extra Saudi oil to offset lost Iranian supply...

Indian media report that Sharif could offer New Delhi a lure in a form of easier access to the Farzad-B gas bloc, whose gas reserve is estimated at 21.6 trillion cubic ft. 

Whatever Zarif has proposed to India today, one thing is clear for most Indians online: India is going to find itself between a rock and a hard place. The solution they propose? Put Indian interests first.

 

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US top brass warn against punishing unbending India for buying Russia’s S-400 missiles

US defense officials are trying to convince India to reject Russian S-400 missiles, but warn against slapping sanctions on the nation if it completes the deal. However, as with Turkey, efforts have so far failed.

India’s decision to purchase the S-400 air defense system from Russia, as well as the fact that it leaves New Delhi exposed to American sanctions, was discussed during a House Armed Service committee hearing on Wednesday.

Assistant Defence Secretary Randall Schriver told the lawmakers he thought “it would be an unfortunate decision” if the Indians completed the S-400 deal. “We are very keen to see them make an alternative choice,” he said, adding that “we’re working with them to provide potential alternatives”.

Also on rt.com Russia to supply India with 5 S-400 systems, defying Washington sanctions...

A similar line came from Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of the Indo-Pacific Command. “I continue to make the point with them that our interoperability and compatibility going forward will be advantaged with the purchase of US systems,” he said.

The purchase of advanced Russian arms makes any country a potential target for US secondary sanctions under the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The US slapped some on China for buying Russian Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 missiles in September last year.

This didn’t stop India from signing a contract a month later, purchasing five S-400 batteries with estimated worth of $5.43 billion. The two nations have a decades-long record of defense cooperation. Russian producers supplied some of the most advanced weapon systems to the Indian Armed Forces as well as contributed to joint projects like the BrahMos supersonic missile.

The threat of possible US sanctions was of course retained during the negotiations, with Indian officials insisting that New Delhi was pursuing an independent defense policy and was not dissuaded by it.

“When Russians asked about the American sanctions, my reply was, ‘Yes, we do appreciate that there could be sanctions on us, but we follow an independent policy,’” General Bipin Rawat, India’s chief of staff, said in the run-up to signing the deal.

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Arguably adding insult to Injury, India even agreed that the contract would be paid in rubles rather than dollars, as was customary in international arms sales. Russia’s policy is to move away from the greenback where it makes sense, which Washington understandably does not appreciate.

Schriver warned the committee about being too zealous in implementing the provisions of the law against India.

“We want to work through it because India is an emerging partnership for us,” he said. The official added the law “is not designed to be an impediment in the growing strategic partnership we have with India. It’s designed for consequence to Russia.”

Potential US-made alternatives for the Russian offer would include Raytheon’s Patriot system or possibly Lockheed Martin’s THAAD system. The former is pitched as the better option to another buyer of the S-400, Turkey. Washington is pressuring Ankara into changing its mind on the deal with Russia by threatening that it could block delivery of F-35 fighter jets.

Speaking to the same Armed Service Committee a day before Schriver and Davidson, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Washington wants Turkey to get F-35s and that the only way for Ankara to do it is to buy US missiles. “We need Turkey to buy the Patriot,” he stressed.

Turkey refuses to yield to US pressure, but hinted it may buy the Patriot system to complement the S-400, not as a replacement.

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South- South Cooperation gets stronger, India and Cuba identify new sectors for cooperation

Top Indian diplomat in the Indian embassy in Havana confirmed to Financial Express Online that, “During FIHAV 2018 where almost 45 Indian companies had participated, LOI was inked on the sidelines.

In line with the government’s “Focus LAC” initiatives and deepening South-South Cooperation, a Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed between the Cuban Business Group of Logistics for Agriculture, GELMA, and the Indian company ESCORTS for exchange of technical data in relation to the project for the supply, post-sale and specialized technical services in the companies under GELMA Business Group.

Top Indian diplomat in the Indian embassy in Havana confirmed to Financial Express Online that, “During FIHAV 2018 where almost 45 Indian companies had participated, LOI was inked on the sidelines. In fact sectors identified between the two sides for enhancing economic cooperation include agriculture, renewable energy, health, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and sports.”

According to Madhu Sethi, Indian Ambassador to Cuba, “FIHAV is an appropriate destination for the Indian companies to meet international delegates across sectors from not only Cuba but the entire Caribbean & Central American region.”

She suggested that such a fair allows the Indian companies to showcase the prowess of the Indian Industry and to tap the lucrative opportunities that the country has to offer.

The relations between the two countries acquired a new momentum with the visit of President Ram Nath Kovind in June and in his talks with his Cuban counterpart President Miguel Diaz-Canel, the two countries had talked about strengthening economic relations. And two MoU’s on Cooperation in the field of Biotechnology and Traditional Medicines and Homeopathy were signed at the end of talks.

According to the envoy, “Biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors are the main pillars of Cuban economy in which both are currently operating. The main products being traded are active ingredients, raw material and equipment.”

Also, since Cuba is one of the founding members of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and cooperation under the ISA Framework is happening, India has offered $ 75 million LoC for 100 MW solar power project in that country.

At the 36th edition of FIHAV which was organised by Cuba where over 70 countries participated and had 45 companies from various sectors were there under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and FICCI. This fair is considered to be one of the most important multi-sectoral trade fair in Caribbean and Central American region with most government procurement orders and business being conducted at the show.

Cuba which is under transformation and liberalization and one of the last few markets in the world to open up has enormous scope for Indian Exporters along with potential lines of credit from EXIM Bank, and areas including India – technology collaboration, skill development, training, SME collaborations.

Also, as has been reported earlier, India could explore opportunities in getting gold from that country as well as seek joint co-operations in copper, nickel and cobalt mining operations.

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Russia to supply India with 5 S-400 systems, defying Washington sanctions

A contract for the delivery of five S-400 systems, one of Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapons, has been signed between Moscow and New Delhi, the Kremlin has confirmed.

 

© Reuters

India signed a $5.43 billion deal to purchase five advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia, defying threats of potential sanctions from Washington.

The deal was finalized after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi.

The advanced air defense system can defend against different kinds of cruise and ballistic missiles. China was the first foreign nation to purchase S-400 systems.

With its S-400 purchase, India now risks being sanctioned under Washington’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which targets countries that purchase arms from Russia.

During a joint media conference after their meeting, Putin said that Russia would work with India to boost bilateral cooperation in the United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and G20.

The Russian leader also said both nations would coordinate counter-terrorism efforts. Modi noted that both countries support a multipolar world.

The two leaders also signed a deal on space cooperation. Modi said during the joint press conference that he hoped Russia would help India develop its space program. The Indian leader recently announced that he aims to send astronauts into space by 2022.

Putin stated during the press conference that they had discussed regional security issues, including counter-terrorism efforts in Syria, as well as the status of the Iran nuclear deal.

Modi hailed his country’s close ties to Moscow, saying that Russia has always "stood shoulder-to-shoulder with India in the energy sector and our goals."

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Vaishali to be India's first visually impaired player at World Chess Olympiad

Blind chess player Vaishali Narendra Salavkar will become the first Indian female to be part of the International Braille Chess Association (IBCA) team at the world chess Olympiad, starting September 23 at Batumi in Georgia, a top IBCA official said.

The IBCA, affiliated to FIDE, sends its teams - open and women - to compete at the chess Olympiad. "Vaishali will be the first Indian blind chess player to participate in the World Chess Olympiad," IBCA President Jadhav Charudatta told IANS on phone from London on Saturday.

Charudatta is also the President of All India Chess Federation for the Blind (AICFB). "Forty-five-year-old Vaishali from Maharashtra has been playing chess for the past 20-25 years. She is an eight-time national champion," AICFB Treasurer Swapnil Shah told IANS. Vaishali has an Elo rating of 1,357 points. An Elo rating is a system which calculates the skills of chess players. 

Shah said two Spanish women chess players were not able to play in the Olympiad and hence the chance came to Vaishali. As per the Olympiad official website, the other Indian female chess player who will be playing in the Olympiad is Malika Handa (ELO rating 1,334) as part of the International Chess Committee of Deaf (ICCD) team.

With these two players, the total number of Indian women chess players including the normal women`s team at the Batumi Olympiad will be seven. The Indian women`s chess Olympiad team consists of Koneru Humpy, Harika Dronavalli, Tania Sachdev, Karavade Esha, and Padmini Rout.

Meanwhile, Charudatta requested FIDE - the global chess body- to extend its cooperation in developing chess for the blind. "For instance, FIDE has specific programmes like chess in schools. It can be extended to blind school students. The blind school students could be allowed to attend the chess classes held in normal schools," Charudatta said.

He said the three chess federations for differently abled - IBCA, ICCD, and International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPDCA) - could first look forming a common platform to address the problems faced by their players.

 

 
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