By Maria Amjad
On June 25th, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the United States as part of the three-nation tour for his first bilateral meeting with the US President, Donald Trump. In his two-day tour to the United States, Modi interacted with about 20 leading American CEOs and attended an Indian-American community event in the DC suburb of Virginia. On June 26th, Modi attended the all-important meeting with President Trump where both the leaders held discussions on a set of strategically important issues.
The event is said to be important for the Indian administration as it will give them the chance to unscramble the new paradigm for the bilateral relationship under Trump’s administration. At the end of the meeting, Trump stressed that the US’ relationship with India has “never been better”.
Stabilising the Indo-Pacific region
During the meeting, Trump and Modi agreed that a close partnership between the United States and India is central to maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. They both agreed that they will act as responsible stewards in the region to resolve any territorial and maritime disputes, according to the tenets outlined in the U.N. Charter and international law.
Trump praised India’s efforts to build Afghanistan-India Air corridor. Both the leaders believe that this act will promote democracy, stability, prosperity, and security in Afghanistan. They also strongly condemned the continued provocations by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), emphasising that its destabilising pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programs poses a grave threat to regional security and global peace. The leaders pledged to work together to counter the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction programs by holding accountable all parties that support these programs.
Fighting terrorism and seeking redressal
The leaders stressed that terrorism is a global scourge that must be fought together with collaboration. They pledged to work together to exterminate terrorism as both the countries are facing the similar issues of cross-border terrorism and Islamic militancy. They committed to strengthening the cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including Al-Qaida, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, D-Company, and their affiliates.
The leaders further addressed Pakistan to ensure the detainment of terrorist organisations from its territory. They further called on Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups.
The leaders also affirmed their support for a U.N. Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism. They also pledged to work together to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems to deny access to such weapons by terrorists and non-state actors.
Growing strategic convergence
Building on the United States’ recognition of India as a Major Defense Partner, both leaders pledged to deepen defence and security cooperation. The leaders announced their intention to build on the implementation of their “White Shipping” data sharing arrangement, which will enhance collaboration on maritime domain awareness. Trump also welcomed Modi’s strong support for the United States to join as an Observer in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium.
As global nonproliferation partners, the United States expressed strong support for India’s early membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Australia Group. Trump reaffirmed the support of the United States for India’s permanent membership on a reformed U.N. Security Council.
Increasing free and fair trade
Being the leading engines of growth in the global economy, both countries felt the need to intensify their economic cooperation. Both the countries planned to undertake a comprehensive review of trade relations with the goal of expediting regulatory processes; ensuring that technology and innovation are appropriately fostered, valued, and protected; and increasing market access in areas such as agriculture, information technology, and manufactured goods and services.
Trump affirmed that the United States will continue to remove barriers to energy development and investment in the United States and to U.S. energy exports so that more natural gas, clean coal, renewable resources and technologies are available to fuel India’s economic growth and inclusive development. Both the leaders specified that the contractual agreements between the Westinghouse Electric Company of the United States and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India for six nuclear reactors that will help provide efficient fossil fuel technologies, smart grids, and energy storages to both the countries.
Trump also praised the efforts of Indians and Indian-Americans in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship and announced India’s formal entry into the International Expedited Traveler Initiative (Global Entry program). This will facilitate closer business and educational ties between the citizens of India and the United States.
Finding common ground
Since his ascension to the presidency, Trump has been trying to unravel several of the Obama-era legacies. He has renounced the Paris Agreement of December 2015 on climate change and has shown indifference to Obama’s rebalance policy in Asia to counter a rapidly rising China. That is why the Indian Foreign Office was concerned that Trump administration might rebuff Modi’s calibrated efforts to strengthen the bilateral relations during the Obama’s tenure. However, in the end, the meeting turned out to be a tremendous success as Modi and Trump came out of the meeting to underline the strength of the underlying forces that have been bringing New Delhi and Washington closer in recent years.
Featured Image Source: Pexels
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