Jaishankar heads to Washington to set stage for Modi’s US visit
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar left for a two-day trip to Washington late on Tuesday to discuss the agenda for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s forthcoming visit to the US and summit meet with President Barack Obama.
This will be perhaps the last Modi-Obama bilateral engagement with the US president ready to demit office eight months later.
Top sources said Jaishankar has been invited by the White House and State Department on April 27-28 to chart out the course of bilateral ties in the last year of Obama’s presidency.
Jaishankar will meet his counterpart, deputy secretary of state Anthony Blinken, and national security advisor Susan Rice; Modi’s joint address to US Senate and Congress on June 7-8, 2016, is high on the agenda. The US is in election mode but Modi’s visit comes at a time when the bilateral relationship has gone beyond official dimensions.
India has made its opposition known to Washington on the supply of F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan and the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor via Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
New Delhi also wants to move ahead with the US on the defence, nuclear and space fronts. Final movement is expected on supply of six Westinghouse-Toshiba nuclear reactors for the 6000-MW Mithi-Virdi power plant in Gujarat with techno-commercial closure expected before the visit.
New Delhi expects President Obama to do the heavy lifting at the New York plenary of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) later in June to ensure India enters this group and is allowed to participate in global nuclear commerce. For India’s entry into the NSG, to which the US committed itself in 2010, Obama will have to over-rule possible opposition from China as the latter wants to bring in Pakistan. India is also waiting for entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime grouping, which had its reinforce point of contact meeting in Paris last week.
New Delhi is also looking for easing of US restrictions in space cooperation so that Indian launchers could be used for American satellites as they are more cost-effective. New Delhi is also looking towards US aircraft manufacturers in connection with the “Make in India” initiative.