Mike Pompeo to visit India as part of trip to Indo-Pacific starting 24 June; will focus on China's rising influence in region

New Delhi: US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has said that his visit to New Delhi in June will be focused on advancing the "incredibly important" ties with India which is a significant part of president Donald Trump's strategy in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.

 Mike Pompeo to visit India as part of trip to Indo-Pacific starting 24 June; will focus on Chinas rising influence in region

File Image of Mike Pompeo. Reuters

Pompeo would leave for New Delhi on 24 June.

New Delhi would be Pompeo's first stop and South Korea his last, during the nearly week-long visit to the Indo-Pacific region, beginning 24 June, including Sri Lanka and Japan.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to give the set of remarks about how it is our relationship is so closely tied economically, but also importantly the things that the United States and India can continue to do to build out what is an incredibly important relationship for both countries," Pompeo said.

Before starting his trip, Pompeo will address the India Ideas Summit of US-India Business Council on 12 June."I'll be speaking to a group of Indian business leaders in preparation for the trip that I'll take in a couple weeks where I'll be visiting India, an important part of President Trump's strategy in the Indo-Pacific," he told reporters at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the US State Department on Monday.

State department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told reporters that Pompeo will travel to the Indo-Pacific region on 24  June through 30 June to broaden and deepen America's partnership with key countries to advance their shared goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

"The secretary's first stop will be in New Delhi, India. Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi's recent election victory provides an excellent opportunity for him to implement his vision for a strong and prosperous India that plays a leading role on the global stage," Ortagus said.

But trade tensions have also been rising between the two countries, with President Donald Trump's administration forcing energy-hungry India to stop buying oil from Iran and Venezuela. Complaining of closed markets, Trump has also removed India from the Generalized System of Preferences, a key trading preference under which India exported $5.6 billion in goods to the United States in 2017.

Pompeo will work with Modi to "broaden our partnership" in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region — a growing catchphrase from Washington amid high tensions between the United States and China.

Modi has supported growing cooperation with the United States, especially on defense. India, US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military maneuvering in the region.

China has been trying to expand its military presence in the Indo-Pacific, which is a biogeographic region, comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea. While Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the sea.

Prime Minister Modi during his recent visit to the Maldives underscored India's firm commitment to make the strategic Indo-Pacific an area for shared economic growth, saying it has been "our lifeline, and also the highway for trade and prosperity."

Pompeo will preview elements of a cooperative agenda during his remarks at the India Ideas Summit at the US Chamber of Commerce, added Ortagus.

His next stop will be in Colombo, where Pompeo will express America's solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka as they stand united against the despicable Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.

Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, "will express America's solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka as they stand united against the despicable Easter Sunday attacks" and also look at further opportunities with the Indian Ocean nation, Ortagus said.

He will later join President Donald Trump at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka and on his visit to South Korea, Ortagus said.

Pompeo will then travel to Osaka, Japan, to participate in the G20 Leaders' Summit from 28 -29 June, the first such gathering hosted by Japan.

On the margins of the summit, Pompeo will join Trump in meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to coordinate "on the final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea", and discuss ways to strengthen trilateral cooperation with South Korea on "our unified approach towards North Korea" and other shared challenges, Ortagus said.

Following the G20 Summit, Pompeo will accompany Trump to South Korea to meet with President Moon Jae-in.

"The two leaders will also discuss ways to strengthen the United States-Republic of Korea alliance. President Trump and President Moon will continue their close coordination on efforts to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearisation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," Ortagus stated.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jun 11, 2019 14:15:17 IST