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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while on his visit to India, spoke on a multitude of issues. On Wednesday, Mike Pompeo met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar as well as National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

After coming out of back to back meetings with Indian officials, India Today Group Editor Raj Chengappa had an opportunity to get Mike Pompeo to chat exclusively on the outcome of the meetings, India-US relations, tensions with Iran and Pakistan's support to terrorism.

Here are some key takeaways from the interview:

ON INDIA-US RELATIONS


Mike Pompeo: When I stare at the opportunities between the two countries, there is a huge potential. Both countries value democratic ideals. The Indian people engage with the US at every level -- in the US, in India and everywhere else in the world.

Our focus today was how we can make this a different age of Indo-US relations, a different time...how we can be more ambitious in our relationship.

So I am positive we can work through our issues whether they are on trade or defence.

OUTCOME OF TALKS


Mike Pompeo: The biggest takeaway is that there is a real commitment between the two nations. I got to meet my counterpart [S Jaishankar] for the first time. Many Americans know him from his time as the Indian Ambassador to the United States so there was already a deep understanding of how the two countries can work together.

In every interaction I had with Indian leadership there was deep understanding that for the sake of our two peoples and the rest of the world, America and India need to be good, solid and reliable partners.

ON TRADE ISSUES AND REVOKING OF INDIA'S PREFERENTIAL STATUS


Mike Pompeo: We are going to work to restore these relationships. I am very confident that we can.

I know the Genenralised System of Preference [GSP] is a big deal to India and it matters an awful lot. Everyone knows trade and trade deficits matter to President Trump a lot.

So I am confident that when two countries of good will work together we can work our way through this. Each country will have to give things up, make trade-offs but that's what friends do.

ON PAKISTAN'S SUPPORT TO TERROR


Mike Pompeo: I talked with NSA Ajit Doval about terrorism at great length. We both reaffirmed our commitment -- no terrorism anywhere is acceptable.

I think the Trump administration has been very clear to Pakistan on our expectations that they can't be supporting terror -- whether it is cross border terror between Afghanistan and Pakistan or terror that comes to this country.

We take this issue seriously because it poses a threat to people of India and our efforts to get a reconciliation in Afghanistan is dependent on Pakistan not providing sanctuary to terrorists inside of the country.

We have been unambiguous with them. As a diplomat, I remain hopeful that Pakistan will choose the right course. I think for the people of Pakistan it's the best outcome.

ON UN BLACKLISTING OF MASOOD AZHAR


Mike Pompeo: We talked about Masood Azhar a bit. It is something we worked very very hard on to get that across the finish line.

We are happy, it is the right outcome and we spoke about a handful of other individual cases as well but suffice it to say we know precisely who these bad actors are and the threat they pose to India and the world and the US will be a very capable partner alongside India to push back against those threats.

ON IRAN SANCTIONS


Mike Pompeo: We are working diligently to make sure that India is fully supplied with crude oil at a good price.

America has done everything to descalate tensions with Iran. If there is conflict, if there is war, it will because the Iranian side made that choice.

I hope they don't mistake President Trump as someone who will not protect American interests.

ON INDIA-RUSSIA DEFENCE DEALS


Mike Pompeo: We have expressed our concerns against the S-400 weapons system. We are candid about our risks and concerns.

ON REPORT ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN INDIA


Mike Pompeo: Religious freedom is central to democracy. Every human being should have the right to practice their own religion.

Mike Pompeo's India visit comes on the heals of a meeting between PM Modi and US President Donald Trump at the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Japan. The two nation heads will meet in Osaka on Friday.

Source:www.indiatoday.in

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