U.S. Wants to Compete with Russia for India Weapons Purchases: Expert

India opened the long-awaited two-plus-two meeting between Indian and U.S. top diplomats and defense chiefs on Thursday, Gulf News reports.

The meeting is seen as an opportunity for Washington to come back into Delhi’s focus regarding arms purchases amid tensions caused by India’s deal with Russia for the purchase of S-400 missile systems. The India-U.S. dialogue is marred by Washington’s threats to impose sanctions on India if it buys oil from Iran.

The two countries share the same concerns, specifically terrorism, a stronger China, and the safety of maritime navigation, especially in the South China Sea where China is building its bases.

“It is quite obvious that the Americans will use the two-plus-two format to win India over to its side, in particular, making the most of India’s fears about China’s growing military and economic power,” says Ruslan Pukhov, Director of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

“India is interested in obtaining modern military technology from the Americans. Plans are in store to purchase a number of weapons. However, the U.S. has complicated legislation, which prevents arms transfers even to close U.S. allies and NATO members,” he told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

There is also the industrial aspect, the expert went on to say.

“The Americans know that [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi is a proponent of the ‘Made in India’ policy. He wants to fully load up the domestic industry and private enterprises rather than state-controlled ones. That’s why the U.S. promises to manufacture many products in India,” he explained.

For one, Lockheed Martin earlier announced plans to build a plant in Hyderabad to manufacture F-16 wings in India.

“There is no direct correlation with the S-400 issue here. However, there are problems with payment. The Americans dominate the global banking system and can punish Indian banks involved in the deal,” Pukhov stressed.