Like Quad, I2U2 can become a central feature of Middle East: NSA Sullivan

Published on Jul 14, 2022 08:53 AM IST

Sullivan indicated the mechanism represented a shift in the US thinking on the region that had been dominated by wars and terrorism for over two decades

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan. (REUTERS)
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan. (REUTERS)

Washington: Just like Quad has become a “central pillar” in the Indo-Pacific, United States (US) national security advisor Jake Sullivan has said that I2U2 — the grouping that brings together India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the US — can become a feature of the broader Middle East region.

Sullivan also indicated that the mechanism represented a shift in the US thinking on the region that had been dominated by wars and terrorism for over two decades to a vision of a more globally integrated geography.

Underlining New Delhi’s centrality to both the mechanisms, Sullivan termed India as “one of the largest, most significant, most strategically consequential” countries in the Indo-Pacific and as a country with long-standing relationships in the Middle East with a role in deepening Israel’s integration into the region.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Joe Biden, Israel’s PM Yair Lapid, and UAE president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will participate in the first leader-level I2U2 summit. Biden is on his first trip to the region since assuming the presidency.

Asked during an interaction with reporters on the President’s trip to Israel what was the goal of bringing India into “so many issues”, and what the US was trying to achieve with that, Sullivan first said that India plays a “critical role in the Indo-Pacific”.

“And it’s one of the largest, most significant, most strategically consequential countries in the Indo-Pacific, and so it should play a central role in our strategy, including through the Quad.”

He then said that India had “very longstanding ties to and engagement in the Middle East”, underlining New Delhi’s relationships with not just Gulf countries but also with Israel.

“And so just as the United States can play a critical and central role in helping deepen Israel’s integration into the region, India has a role to play in that as well.”

The US NSA — one of Biden’s closest aides who is seen as an among the architects of the administration’s India policy — then laid out the broader worldview behind the I2U2 mechanism, a recent innovation that was made possible because of the Abrahamic Accords that saw Israel and a range of its West Asian neighbours arrive at a diplomatic breakthrough. Sullivan said I2U2 represented a shift in the US focus in the region.

“Bringing together Israel, India, and the United Arab Emirates, especially around an issue where the four countries have unique capacities to bring to bear on agricultural technology, leading to greater food production, leading to an alleviation of the food security challenge — this is the kind of thing that really fulfils the President’s vision of a more integrated, more globally engaged Middle East across the board that isn’t just focused on issues that have been top of mind for American foreign policymakers over the last 20 years — terrorism and wars.”

The NSA said the grouping was about “expanding partnerships, expanding the geography” rather than “contracting or narrowing it”. “And so, we very much look forward to Prime Minister Modi’s participation in this event.”

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    Prashant Jha is the Washington DC-based US correspondent of Hindustan Times. He is also the editor of HT Premium. Jha has earlier served as editor-views and national political editor/bureau chief of the paper. He is the author of How the BJP Wins: Inside India's Greatest Election Machine and Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal.

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