Indo-Pacific ties, Afghanistan focus of Modi, Trump meeting
Continued cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and stabilization of Afghanistan in terms of working together to counter terror are high on the agenda of the talks between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narenda Modi after the former arrives in India on Monday for a two-day visit whose showpiece will be the Namaste Trump rally in Ahmedabad’s Motera stadium.
With both the US and India committed to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and demilitarization of the area, both leaders will exchange notes on how to operationalize the Indo-Pacific strategy with PM Modi keen to totally involve ASEAN countries, particularly Singapore, to reinforce the QUAD initiative. The QUAD comprises the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
Although President Trump defined the Indo-Pacific as a region spanning Hollywood to Bollywood, more and more countries including the US are now aligned to PM Modi’s geographical vision of the Indo-Pacific—from the eastern shores of Africa to the western shores of the US—with ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as an anchor.
The Boeing P8I anti-submarine warfare and surveillance aircraft, four more of which expected to be delivered to India this year to make a total of 12, are central to the Indo-Pacific cooperation with the aircraft of the US and Australia in touch with each other over the entire theatre.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday held a meeting with external affairs minister S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Sandhu on the Trump visit and discussed in detail the issues to be discussed during the trip, apart from protocol issues.
Jaishankar returned from a weeklong trip to Germany and Belgium, where the European Union is based, on Friday morning, NSA Doval returned from a quiet visit to key ally France on Saturday.
During his interactions with the German leadership and European European foreign ministers, Jaishankar apparently found that Europe was more worried about the US-China tussle than with India’s nullification of Article 370 that divested Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and the passage of the Citizen (Amendment) Act, which was a passing reference.
Trump will be briefed by PM Modi on all the steps his government has taken on inclusive development and keeping the minorities totally on board.
Counter-terrorism in the context of Af-Pakistan is another central theme of the summit with India understanding the need for the US to thin down its commitment to the region after 18 years.
However, the US truce with the Taliban, according to New Delhi, can only succeed if the “rest and recreation” sanctuaries across the Durand Line , the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, are closed; or else stability will never return to Kabul.