NEW DELHI (AP) — The U.S. secretary of state arrived in India’s capital late Tuesday after visiting Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan on a trip aimed at building a global coalition to counter Iran.
The visit of Mike Pompeo is the first high-level engagement between the two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election in last month’s general election. He is scheduled to meet with his counterpart, S. Jaishankar, and Modi on Wednesday amid growing tensions between the two countries over trade and tariffs.
India imposed tariffs on 28 American products including apples and almonds on June 16 in retaliation for the U.S. ending India’s preferential trade status on June 1. The Trump administration imposed higher duties on products including aluminum and steel.
The visit also comes ahead of scheduled meeting between President Donald Trump and Modi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Summit in Japan later this week.
The two countries officials are also likely to discuss India’s plans to purchase Russia’s S-400 air defense system. U.S. has shown reservations about the deal.
Earlier Tuesday, hundreds of supporters of left-wing groups marched in central New Delhi to protest Pompeo’s visit and denounce American policies in the Middle East. They demonstrated as riot police watched along the streets ahead of Mike Pompeo’s arrival.
The protesters held banners reading “No war on Iran” and chanted slogans such as “Hands off Iran, hands off!” and “War mongering America, down down.”
They urged the Indian government not to cut off imports of oil from Iran, as the U.S. has demanded.
“The relationship that the U.S. wants with countries like India is between a master and a servant,” said Arun Kumar, a protester. “We are opposed to that. We want a relationship between equals.”
Some other protesters also called for an end of American actions against the governments of Cuba and Venezuela, terming them “imperialism.”