General James Mattis, secretary of defense nominee for President-elect Donald Trump, listens during a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Mattis Says U.S. Ready to Ink Defense Technology Pact With India

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he’s ready to sign a key defense cooperation agreement with India, as tensions remained over threatened American sanctions.

The talks, postponed from earlier, are scheduled for Thursday as the U.S. threatens economic sanctions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government unless it significantly reduces purchase of oil from Iran and scraps the purchase of an anti-aircraft missile system from Russia. India has so far refused to agree to the demands.

"We are pretty much there already on the American side," Mattis told traveling reporters. "We’ll see where they’re at."

The U.S. hopes to sign the proposed pact that will allow sharing more sensitive defense technologies with India, Mattis said, declining to give more details. The Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement will be a key part of the so-called 2+2 meetings between Mattis, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and their Indian counterparts due Thursday.

Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj will present the Indian side at the talks.

Mattis added that the two sides will likely discuss India’s planned purchase of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia.

"Freedom means that at times nations don’t agree with each other -- that doesn’t mean we can’t be partners," Mattis said.

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