India-US ties in right direction amid China’s growing hegemony

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington DC later this month, efforts to take India-US ties to a higher trajectory got a massive boost over the past few days. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to New Delhi paved the way for much closer strategy and defence ties between New Delhi and Washington—a development that assumes significance amid China’s growing hegemony. In talks with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh, the US Defence Secretary significantly discussed and explored the ways to deal with the challenges resulting from China’s aggressive behavior not only in the Indo-Pacific, but also in the Indian Ocean and at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Austin and Rajnath, as a matter of fact, set the stage for PM Modi’s upcoming state visit to the US later this month. So, the indications are clear that PM Modi and US President Joe Biden will delve much deeper into the Indo-Pacific issues in the backdrop of China’s aggression in the region.
It is good for India that the Biden administration has started focusing more on the Indo-Pacific, amid the ongoing Ukraine conflict and the Taiwan issues. Defence Secretary Austin has given enough signals that India and the US will firm up a more robust and comprehensive counter to China not only in the Indo-Pacific but in other regions as well. It goes without saying that PM Modi will use the opportunity of his visit to Washington to discuss with Biden the measures to contain China’s expansionism in the Indo-Pacific. What is remarkable is that the difference between India and the US approach over the Ukraine situation has not overshadowed any of the meetings and talks held between the officials of the two sides. Of course, India and the US are focusing on other sectors like trade and technology. Another important development ahead of PM Modi’s upcoming US visit was the inaugural meeting of India-US Strategic Trade Dialogue (IUSSTD). The talks focused on ways to facilitate development and trade in critical technologies like semiconductors, space, telecom, quantum, Artificial Intelligence, defence and bio-tech. Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra travelled to the US for talks. This development also assumes significance in the light of the efforts being made to deepen the strategy and trade ties between India and the US. As PM Modi’s visit to the US is taking place amid changing international geopolitics, it is good that the efforts of firming up a stronger and broader alliance between India and the US are being given further momentum like this. The two countries are more determined than ever before to take their strategic partnership to the next level. The statements coming from the US administration confirmed it. The United States (US) hopes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington DC on 22 June will “consecrate” the India-US relationship as the most important bilateral relationship for the US on the global stage and reinforce already high levels of trust and confidence between the two sides, a top Joe Biden administration official has said. Kurt Campbell, the Indo-Pacific coordinator of the US National Security Council, has also said India today figures prominently in the calculations of investment and business groups looking to diversify their supply chains and the visit will offer an opportunity to deepen investment and educational linkages.
In another significant development, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will be visiting New Delhi next week to “firm up the deliverables for the Modi visit”. He is expected to be in India on a two-day visit (12-14 June). He will meet his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval during which the US official will focus on how to deepen India-US defence ties further. The US NSA’s visit is also aimed at setting the agenda for Modi-Biden talks in Washington. Needless to say, India and the US are going to be more focussed on security, strategic, defence, diplomatic and trade sectors. All these meetings and visits do suggest that the relationship and partnership between India and the US are continuously on an upswing. As the agenda and stage are being set by the officials of both sides, PM Modi and President Biden will give the ties a massive momentum and new dimensions so as to take the relationship to a new high.

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