India’s has cited its 70-year history of military hardware acquisitions from Russia. More than 64% of Indian military inventory is from Russia.
The NSA travelled to the US ahead of a visit next month to India by Russian President Vladimir Putin and a possible deal on S-400 missile system on October 5.
A waiver of CAATSA by President Donald Trump is essential because, in its absence, US defence contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and Sirkorsky, which are supplying critical equipment to India like the C-17, C-130 J transport aircraft, Apache and Chinook helicopters, will come under sanctions.
Both sides have described the 2+2 in glowing terms as “historic” and not simply because it was the first meeting of the four principals in this format, which the United States has with only its closest allies.
“Last week, I did go to India for what could only be considered highly successful consultations between the world’s two largest democracies,” Mattis said to reporters on his return. “There (were) no difficulties that we uncovered there in moving forward on a number of pragmatic steps to draw ourselves closer together in terms of security.”
And, he added: “It was a -- it was a very heartening trip, historic I’d even say” and “a defining moment for the relationship”.
The secretary of defense specially mentioned the signing for COMCASA — Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement — that allows India access to all defense-related US communications systems, enhancing defense trade and interoperability between the two militaries.
Indian ambassador to the United States Navtej Sarna accompanied the NSA to these meetings..
Bolton is Doval’s third US counterpart, following Michael Flynn and HR Mcmaster. The Indian NSA had had meetings with both Flynn and Mcmaster within days of their appointment respectively. Flynn didn’t last long enough in the job, but his successor, Mcmaster became the first senior-level Trump administration official to visit India, in April, 2017, just days after his meeting with Doval in Washington DC.
NSA Doval’s visits to the US are generally low-profile and neither side has had much to say about them and, specially, the specifics. There were no readouts from India or the United States about his three meetings on Friday, except a mention in the state department’s public schedule of events and engagements — about his meeting with secretary Pompeo.
While India is all for engaging Russia and China for better relations, it is clear in its mind that this will not be at the cost of India-us deep ties or vice versa. Perhaps the S-400 will turn out to be a classic example how close allies could handle tricky issues.