U.S. says India talks 'a priority' after postponing twice

US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley and US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster participating in langar seva during a visit to Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk in New Delhi on Thursday

Nikki Haley, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, is on an inter-faith journey in India, visiting a Hindu temple, a Sikh shrine, a mosque and a church in old parts of the capital.

The US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Wednesday she saw opportunities in developing stronger ties with India in multiple ways, especially in fighting terrorism and military cooperation.

The India-US partnership is crucial for achieving global peace and prosperity for up to half a century, US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley said on Thursday but hinted at possible irritants like India's ties with Iran that could crimp relations.

Haley said she understood India "can't change its relationship with Iran in a day" but said she used a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi to encourage a reassessment.

US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal last month, re-imposing sanctions that had been suspended in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

Talking to an Indian think tank in New Delhi on Thursday, Haley said, "the United States is approaching our relationship with Pakistan differently than in the past". "It will happen soon", she said.

Indian officials also planned to discuss the issue of sweeping USA sanctions on Russian Federation under which any country engaged with its defense and intelligence sectors could face secondary US sanctions.

India, the world's top defense importer, had been in talks with Russian Federation to buy missile systems when the sanctions were announced and New Delhi has said the embargo would not affect ties to Moscow.

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India today indicated that it may withdraw the notification imposing additional duties on 29 USA products, to be effective from August 4, if both the sides are able to sort out the differences over tariffs, official sources said.

Haley, a member of Trump's cabinet, said the postponement of the meeting in Washington had nothing to do with any policy issues.

Trade differences between the United States and India are also increasing.

India's foreign ministry said Thursday however that the Islamic Republic was a "very traditional partner" that enjoyed "historical, civilizational linkages" to India. Last week, New Delhi raised duties on USA farm products in retaliation against Trump's tariff hikes on steel and aluminium.

The United States also wants India to cut oil imports from Iran following the reimposition of sanctions that had been suspended under a nuclear accord.

The statement did not say whether Haley raised the issue of India cutting its dependence on Iranian oil following the USA decision to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. "We have countries where, as an example India, they charge up as much as 100% tariff".

Haley said her two-day visit to India was aimed at solidifying the partnership between the two countries.

Haley's visit to the religious places including the Central Baptist Church followed her statement, "freedom of religion was as important as freedom of people".

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