India meets conditions for US waiver on S-400: Sources

India inked an agreement with Russia in October last year to procure a batch of the missile systems at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore.

India would make a fresh effort to convince the USA on the necessity of a waiver for the S-400 missile defence deal at the maiden meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who would arrive at the national capital on Tuesday night.

Diplomatic sources said here on Tuesday that India fulfilled the criterion under which the Donald Trump administration could relieve the Narendra Modi government from the threat of sanctions due to the controversial defence deal signed with Russia in October 2018.

“We have a long-standing defence relationship with Russia, which just can't be wished away. The (S-400) deal was in discussions for a decade and was signed last year. The USA knows our compulsions. They are appreciative,” sources said.

Last year the US Senate passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) imposing sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea without the provision of waiver sought by President Donald Trump’s administration.

Section 231 of the CAATSA mandated secondary sanctions to any nation entering into high-value deals to procure military hardware from Russia.

The India-Russia deal to procure five S-400 Triumf missile defence systems is estimated to be worth about $ 5.5 billion or approximately Rs 39,000 crore.

While the Trump administration repeatedly pushed India to withdraw from the controversial Russian deal, India sought the waiver from the provisions of the act.

“As far as sanctions go, if you look at the US legislation, it's clear as to under what circumstances a waiver can be given by the administration, which we feel that we meet. From a purely legal view, India fulfils those requirements. This will have to be a combination of legal and the political stand of the US government, keeping in mind the US-India ties,” sources said.

To protect strategic partners like India, the US Congress last year passed another law (National Defense Authorisation Act) that could give countries like India a waiver from the sanctions. However, the law is yet to be signed by President Donald Trump.

Pompeo would call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi before sitting down with Jaishankar to discuss irritants like the Russian defence deal, Iran oil sanctions, H1B visa, data localisation and trade issues.

“India would be asking both sides (US and Iran) to deescalate as the regional tension is a matter of concern to us because of the 8 million strong diaspora. On the purchase of Iranian oil, India's decision would be guided by commercial considerations and energy security,” sources added.

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