Delay in 2+2 dialogue unrelated to India: Haley

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New Delhi, June 28 (IANS) The postponement of the 2+2 dialogue was “completely unrelated” to India, US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley said here on Thursday, seeking to dismiss reports that linked it to issues like sanctions against Iran and the proposal to buy the S-400 missile system from Russia.

“Our relationship will mark a new milestone when the US and India conduct the first-ever 2+2 dialogue. The delay in that meeting was completely unrelated to India. The time and location are being rescheduled now. It will happen soon,” she said in a speech on “Advancing India-US Relations” organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

Her remarks came a day after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday and announced the postponement of the dialogue scheduled for July 6.

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News reports had sought to suggest that the sudden decision by the US on Wednesday night to postpone the talks could be due to the fact that New Delhi may find it difficult to stop all oil imports from Iran beyond November this year following sanctions against Teheran on the nuclear issue.

Ihe deferring of the 2+2 dialogue was also sought to be linked to the proposed defence deal with Russia.

But there was no official reason given for why Washington decided on the postponement except to say that there were scheduling problems.

Under the 2+2 dialogue, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were to travel to Washington to hold talks with their US counterparts Michael Pompeo and James Mattis on July 6 on bilateral issues.

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Earlier on Thursday, the US Embassy released a statement which said the postponement was not related to bilateral relationship.

“Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke last night with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to convey his regret for having to postpone the 2+2 dialogue, which had been scheduled for July 6. This scheduling change was prompted by reasons entirely unrelated to the bilateral relationship,” said a US Embassy press release.

It said both the leaders agreed to reschedule the 2+2 dialogue as soon as possible.

“The U.S.-India partnership is a major strategic priority for the Trump Administration. The US remains firmly committed to a strong relationship with India,” the release added.

In her speech, Haley, who is here on a three-day visit, said India and a strengthened US-India partnership were at the centre of the US approach of seeking for every country — large and small — the ability and opportunity to interact as sovereign and equal nations.

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“Perhaps no other partnership has as much potential for global peace and prosperity over the next 10, 20 or 50 years,” she said, adding the 2+2 dialogue was an important sign of how much bilateral security and defence cooperation had grown in recent years and the new level of strategic confidence in the partnership.

–IANS

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