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Ties with US, Russia, trade talks India's diplomatic priorities in 2019
Jan 07, 2019

Maintaining a balance between ties with the US and Russia, talks on free trade agreements with Europe and Southeast Asia, and making the Indo-Pacific concept gain global acceptability will be among India's top foreign policy priorities in the year ahead.
 
Analysts believe that, for India, which has good relations with both the US and Russia, maintaining a balance between ties with these two major global powers will be a challenge through 2019.
 
In 2018, a new milestone was reached when the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue was held in which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sithraman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then Defence Secretary Jim Mattis participated.
 
A key highlight of the meeting was the signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) by the two sides. COMCASA guarantees India access to critical US defence technologies and communication networks to help the militaries of the two countries in their inter-operability.
 
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin, after being re-elected Russian President for the fourth time, hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an informal summit in the resort city of Sochi, something unprecedented. Following, the meeting Modi said that it took the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia to a new level.
 
This was before the annual bilateral summit between Modi and Putin in New Delhi in October during which the crucial agreement to procure the S-400 Triumf long-range surface-to-air missile system from Russia was signed.
 
The S-400 missile deal has been an issue of much speculation after the Trump administration's Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law came into effect in January. CAATSA targets countries doing business with Russian, Iranian and North Korean defence companies.
 
According to the analysts here, with the US on one side and Russia on the other -- and with issue-based support from China -- India will have its task cut out at international forums like the UN Security Council, WTO and the Organisation for Prevention of Chemical Weapons in trying to preserve its space.
    

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