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India, US unlikely to clinch mini trade deal during Donald Trump’s visit.

Date: 17-02-2020
Subject: India, US unlikely to clinch mini trade deal during Donald Trump’s visit
NEW DELHI: The possibility of a mini trade agreement between India and the US during President Donald Trump’s visit to India later this month seems unlikely even as foreign minister S Jaishankar met US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference to exchange notes and take stock of the bilateral relationship. 

“Good to see secretary Pompeo at MSC 2020. Allowed us to take stock of the relationship as we look forward to President Donald Trump's visit,” Jaishankar tweeted. The visit, which will see Trump being feted in Ahmedabad and Delhi, is likely to cover important strategic ground but the trade negotiations have run aground as both sides failed to make the last mile. 

The Indian side said the US was adding new items to the list. 

The US wants India to open markets for pizza cheese and whey protein among other things, which are new additions, prompting India to say that the goalposts are being moved. 

With talks dragging on, the tough-talking US trade representative Robert Lighthizer called off his visit to India. The trade deal is important to Trump as he heads into elections and is keen to show that his tough stance with allies and rivals has improved the terms of commerce for the US. The situation also presents an opportunity as the US President would like to have a deal in hand. Though India is not as crucial as China, a trade pact can add to Trump’s list of “achievements” that reflect a better deal for US products. 

Sources here said the Indian top leadership is interested in getting a deal done, but both sides apparently remain at a distance from each other. S Jaishankar also met US speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi as well as a US Congressional delegation, led by Jim Inhofe, head of the powerful armed services committee. “Discussed our growing strategic cooperation. Value their interest in building this ties,” he said. 

As it appears imminent that the Taliban may begin a seven-day “reduction of violence” in Afghanistan in preparation to signing a peace deal with the US, Jaishankar also met US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad  who, he said, “updated” him on the negotiations and current state of play. According to reports, the peace deal could be signed as soon as the end of February. 

In another tweet, Jaishankar said he had a meeting with Saudi foreign minister  on Saturday and “appreciated his perspectives on global and regional issues”. “Looking forward to working with him in the Strategic Partnership Council,” he added. 

He also met Australian and Singaporean defence ministers Linda Reynolds  and Ng Eng Hen and said India was working with them to take security cooperation forward. s
Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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