US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the twin issues of India buying the S-400 missile defence system from Russia and oil from Iran will be part of the inaugural 2+2 dialogue but not the primary focus of the talks, according to media reports.
Pompeo along with US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will be in India for talks starting on Thursday with their counterparts external affair minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
"They will be part of the conversation and will certainly come up but I don't think they will be the primary focus of what the two nations are trying to accomplish here," Pompeo said on Tuesday while on his way to Pakistan, where he will meet Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday.
India is expected to convey to the US clearly that it will go ahead with the Rs 40,000 crore deal to acquire five S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems, considered to be the best of its kind in the world.
"There are many other things on the agenda that we intend to make progress on. The two issues are important and important for the relationship but I don't see their resolution or have the intention of resolving them during the current talks," he said, according to the Times of India.
"The main focus will be on things which are big and strategic and will go on for the next 20 to 50 years. Those are the kind of topics that I and secretary Mattis are hoping to address, not that the missiles and oil are not important, but they are not part of the structural relationship between the two countries," Pompeo said.
Regretting that the dialogue had to be postponed twice in the past, he said: "The second time it was my fault as I had to travel to Pyongyang. But secretary Mattis and I are looking forward to this".
The dialogue was earlier scheduled for July 6 in Washington but was postponed by the US on June 27, citing "unavoidable reasons".
Pompeo said India was a true strategic and defence partner with whom the US has a great relationship, which is very important for the success of the Indo-Pacific strategy.