Republican senator John McCain on Thursday joined recent and ongoing US efforts to make it up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for what he delicately described as “recent history”.
“As we seek to take our strategic partnership with India to the next level, it is important for US leaders to reach out personally to Prime Minister Modi, especially in light of recent history,” McCain said in a speech in the senate.
That’s largely why, he added, he was traveling to India next week. He is scheduled to meet the prime minister, his security team and other leaders.
McCain, who ran against President Barack Obama in 2008, did not elaborate or explain “recent history”, which is essentially the US slighting Modi by denying him a visa in 2005.
Modi never applied again. But as he began rising in the party, some in the United States, including a few Republican lawmakers, began lobbying the administration and congress to reconsider.
When the US finally moved, it was a little too late, a sentiment echoed by Senator McCain in his speech: “I am pleased that President Obama invited the Prime Minister to visit Washington. I wish he had extended that invitation sooner, but it is positive nonetheless.”
Prime Minister Modi is traveling to the US around September 30 for a White House meeting with President Obama in DC, and UN general assembly in New York.
While urging better ties between the countries, which, the senator said, have been dogged by transactional considerations lately, he raised the impact of Afghan pullout on India.
“If Afghanistan goes the way of Iraq in the absence of US forces, it would leave India with a clear and present danger on its periphery,” he said, correctly reading the sentiment in New Delhi.
India is worried Afghanistan would slide right back to the pre-2001 days of chaos and turn into a haven for terrorists again if the US dumped it as once before.
President Obama has said 9,800 US troops will stay behind in counter-insurgency and advisory roles, but not if Afghanistan didn’t sign a bilateral security agreement.
To India’s ill-concealed irritation, President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the pact. But the two men running to succeed him have both said they will.