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US continues to have conversation with India on S-400, no decision yet: Alice Wells

The Trump Administration continues to have conversations with India on its mega military deal to purchase S-400 missile defence system from Russia, a senior US official said, noting that no decision has been made yet on American sanctions if New Delhi goes ahead with the plan.

India is planning to buy five S-400 Triumf missile air defence systems from Russia for around USD 4.5 billion. The purchase will violate sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) instituted by Congress on arms purchases from Russia, but lawmakers have allowed the possibility of a presidential waiver.

"We continue to have conversations with the Indian leadership on ways that we are working to hold Russia accountable for its behaviour," Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Well told reporters during a conference call Monday.

Responding to a question on the possibility of sanctions on India if New Delhi buys S-400 from Russia or if there would be a waiver, Wells said the current American sanctions are not intended to adversely impact countries like India.

"They are designed to impact Russia," she argued.

"We are working through the implications of CAATSA and the significance that we attach to CAATSA," she said.

On Iran, Wells said there's been an expert level discussion between the two countries on issues related to the crude oil exports from Tehran or ways to bring those exports down in order to counter the malign behaviour by Iran in the region. "Those conversations are ongoing," she said.

The US has told India and other countries to cut oil imports from Iran to "zero" by November 4 or face sanctions, making it clear that there would be no waivers to anyone.

Iran is India's third-largest oil supplier behind Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil during April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of 2017-18 fiscal).

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