White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, confirmed that the hotline that was established in 2015 between Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will continue to exist after January 20, under the new Trump administration.
This was the only hotline established during the eight years of the Obama Presidency. It was indicative of the Asia pivot taken by the USA. It also reflected the deepening US-India ties under the Obama Administration. The last hotline established by the USA was under President George W. Bush with China in 2008.
“I’d be surprised if that was something that was discontinued,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
In response to a question asked he said, “Typically, those kinds of arrangements are intended to persist beyond just one presidential term.” Discussions about establishing the hotline started after President Obama’s visit to India in 2015 as chief guest on January 26 at India’s annual Republic Day parade. It became operational in August 2015.
Modi had then said the move was to help enhance the critical partnership between two countries and give it “a new thrust and sustained attention.”
It has been reported that the two leaders have frequently spoken over the hotline and that at least one of those conversations lasted for more than an hour, according to the US Ambassador to India.
The USA also has a hotline with Russia, Britain and China. The one with the UK was set up in 1943 during World War 2 and with Russia during the 1963 Cuban missile crisis. For India, this is the first hotline at the level of the head of state. It has two hotlines at the foreign secretary levels with Pakistan and foreign ministry level with China.
In June 2004, when India and Pakistan agreed to extend a nuclear testing ban they set up the hotline between their foreign secretaries to prevent any misunderstandings that might lead to nuclear war. India set up one with China later in 2010.