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NEW DELHI, July 31 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that he still hoped for a compromise to end India’s opposition to a global deal that would address its concerns and help advance trade liberalisation, just hours before a deadline passed.
New Delhi has insisted that, in exchange for signing a trade facilitation agreement worked out in Bali last year, it must see more progress on a parallel pact giving it more freedom to subsidise and stockpile food grains than is allowed by World Trade Organization rules.
“We are obviously encouraging our friends in India to try to find a path here where there is a compromise that meets both needs, and we think that’s achievable. We hope that it’s achievable,” Kerry told reporters after talks with Indian leaders as part of an annual strategic dialogue.
India’s new nationalist government has demanded a halt to a globally agreed timetable on new customs rules and said a permanent agreement on food stockpiling and subsidies aimed at supporting the poor must be in place at the same time, well ahead of a 2017 target set last December in Bali.
“Our feeling obviously is that the agreement that was reached in Bali is an agreement that, importantly, can provide for food security for India,” Kerry said.
“We do not dismiss the concerns India has about (the) large number of poor people who require some sort of food assurance,” he said.
Kerry, who was accompanied by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, held talks with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in a bid to revitalise ties that have soured over differences on trade, climate change and slowing Indian reforms.
He will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. The Indian leader, who swept to office in May with the strongest mandate in 30 years, is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama in September. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Rajesh Kumar Singh; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Mike Collett-White)