News Analysis |
US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Defense secretary Jim Mattis will travel to India in September for high-level talks with Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The objective of the tour includes confidence-building measures to enhance the cooperation between two countries in the military and political domain.
The reservations were explicitly addressed that the cooperation was not against any specific country but growing threat of ISIS in lawless Afghanistan, which remains a security risk for all four countries.
It is important to keep in mind that India is the key ally for the United States of America after Donald Trump announced the New South Asia Policy in September 2017. But following the U.S President Donald Trump’s tariff surgeon almost all the countries Unites the States of America trades with, India is not an exception. The trade row has caused somewhat soaring of relations between the two countries, and both the secretaries will be coming to make sure that it does not affect the relations in the strategic domain.
The South Asia policy has not resulted as per the US aspirations as it will be completing a year when US officials will be traveling to India. The war in Afghanistan and India’s input to help it bring to a conclusive end, which is acceptable back in the USA, has always been a subject of doubt. Among the stakeholders of Afghan turmoil, the key hurdle is the unwillingness of Taliban to negotiate and accept the legitimacy of the Afghan government. As India has no influence of any sort over the Taliban, its inclusion to solve the problem is only going to make Pakistan unhappy, a country historically enrooted into Afghan conflict. US secretaries will be asking India to step up as far as Afghanistan is concerned but the scope of Indian cooperation inside Afghanistan is very limited.
After US president’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal and threat to the countries which continue their trade with Iran, India is facing an uncertainty as it has major investments at stake in Iran. Traditionally, India along with some other countries used to get a waiver from the United States during the time sanctions was intact on Iran. India is one of the largest importers of Iranian oil but Donald Trump has indicated that he is in no mood to give waivers to any country this time around. To discuss the matter and negotiate for an acceptable solution an Indian delegation is already negotiating with US officials. The issue will also certainly be the part of the minister-level discussion between two countries as the official tour of US secretaries begins in September because the Indian interests in Iran go beyond importing oil.
Both the countries have a common concern for the growing military and economic hegemony of China in the region. India has long sought US assistance to counter the Chinese influence. China is flexing its muscles into countries like Nepal which have been traditionally under the influence of India and hence causing worries for the latter. And for the United States of America, due to geographical proximity and close relations with North Korea, China remains an indirect but very significant stakeholder of the Korean problem. The cooperation in countering the common Chinese threat could well be the part of the agenda for the 2+2 dialogue, as it is called, between the USA and India.
At first, the tour might also seem as a countermeasure of recent development in Islamabad where Pakistan hosted Spy chiefs of China, Russia, and Iran to counter the menace of ISIS which is a threat to the entire region. But the tour of US foreign and defense chiefs was originally planned in April this year however due to certain reasons it has been subjected to continuous delays. Since the unprecedented meeting of spy chief of regional powers is very significant for US and Indian interests, the implication of high profile meet up is increased further.
Apparently, the quadrate meeting in Islamabad seemed to be of the countries which are either vary of US policies in the region or its strategic rivals which gave the impression that collusion might be against the country itself. The reservations were explicitly addressed that the cooperation was not against any specific country but growing threat of ISIS in lawless Afghanistan, which remains a security risk for all four countries. However, both Russia and the United States have been blaming each other in the past of supporting ISIS and Taliban respectively.