Opinion | Bilateral ties between India and US remain on even keel

Trade interlocutors on both sides have decided to sit down and chalk out a mutually beneficial resolution under the guidance of the leadership on both sides with Union external affairs minister S Jaishankar bringing added heft to Indian negotiations.
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019.(REUTERS)
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019.(REUTERS)
Updated on Jul 01, 2019 07:10 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By

US President Donald Trump’s tweet seeking the withdrawal of new trade tariffs imposed by India on the eve of G20 did not appear to have affected Prime Minister Narendra Modi who batted on the front foot when the two leaders met the following day, with the result that bilateral ties between the world’s two largest democracies remain on an even keel.

According to diplomats based in New Delhi and Washington, while there have been no breakthroughs in bilateral ties, back-to-back meetings of PM Modi, first with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump have ensured that both sides know where and how the perceived differences on trade or third-party relationships have to be addressed.

Indeed, after the bilateral with Modi, Trump said he expected a trade deal with India soon.

“The humongous Lok Sabha mandate of PM Modi was recognised by the other leaders with US President Trump specifically mentioning that in his bilateral. During the two-day summit, PM Modi had one-to-ones with 18 out of 20 global leaders present with very constructive results from engagements with the US, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia,” said a senior Indian government official, who asked not to be named

However, the most positive result came out of bilateral meeting with the US given that both sides were circumspect in the run-up to the Modi-Trump bilateral.

Trade interlocutors on both sides have decided to sit down and chalk out a mutually beneficial resolution under the guidance of the leadership on both sides with Union external affairs minister S Jaishankar bringing added heft to Indian negotiations.

The divergence over India buying five units of the S-400 missile system from Russia will be sorted out between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his US counterpart John Bolton as both the US State Department as well as the Pentagon understand the Indian position, the official added.

Doval has already offered a technical solution to ensure that the security of US platforms with India are not compromised on account of the induction of the S-400 system. And India is also on the verge of issuing a letter of agreement for the purchase of 24 US helicopters and a surface to air missile shield for capital New Delhi. Negotiations on purchase of armed drones is yet to begin given the high cost of the platform and questions over their survivability in heavily contested air space like Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. A number of other hardware acquisitions from US are in the pipeline and it is for the Modi government to prioritize its purchases with the available capital.

India and US were on the same page as far as terrorism was concerned with both sides pinning the blame on Pakistan based terror groups who under protection of the state were bent on de-stablising Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Afghanistan.

While PM Modi asked both US and Iran to take de-escalatory steps in the Persian Gulf with disruption in oil supplies being a very real worst case scenario, his bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at G-20 brought about an assurance from the latter to bridge the oil supplies gap in case the crisis flares up.

India’s relations with both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been extremely beneficial since PM Modi took over in 2014 with the two countries sending back no less than 138 Indian fugitives to face the law here.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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Friday, January 21, 2022