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Pompeo in India: What to expect to from ‘2 plus 2’ talks with U.S. officials

Military issues will be at the top of the agenda during U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo‘s visit to India.Story continues below

Pompeo and U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis are scheduled to meet with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday, to discuss strengthening ties between the two countries.READ MORE: Donald Trump abruptly cancels Mike Pompeo’s planned trip to North KoreaExperts say the so-called “2+2” talks should bring the two countries’ militaries closer together while allowing them to iron out differences over issues such as Russia and Iran.Here’s what to expect from the high-level talks.COMCASAThe U.S. hopes India will finally sign onto to the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) on Thursday, after more than a year of negotiations. The deal would allow India to buy sensitive U.S. military hardware, including armed Sea Guardian drones. The U.S. has never sold one of the drones to a country outside the NATO alliance.India has called COMCASA “intrusive,” because it forces the Indian military to use encrypted U.S. communications networks on whatever equipment it buys.READ MORE: Trump asks Pompeo to look into South African land seizures of ‘white farmers’However, reports from Reuters and several Indian media outlets suggest New Delhi might be ready to drop its opposition to COMCASA.“That would be a big deal, if that announcement came out of this,” said Alyssa Ayres, a former U.S. State Department official and now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.“In terms of advancing the interoperability [between the two countries’ militaries], that would really be a kind of big next step,” she told Reuters.The U.S. has sold nearly US$15 billion in military equipment to India over the last decade and is the country’s No. 2 weapons supplier after Russia.Sanctions over Russia and IranThe U.S. is expected to press India over its reliance on Iranian oil imports, and its decision to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration have imposed heavy sanctions against Russia and Iran, and have also threatened to sanction countries that trade with either nation. The Iran sanctions are scheduled to be re-imposed in November.India is expected to ask for waivers under those sanction plans.WATCH BELOW: U.S. imposes new sanctions on Russia over Skripal poisoning

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