(Image source from: newsnation.in)
The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his major India policy speech at the India Ideas Summit of U.S.-India Business Council on Wednesdayhas sought to take the bilateral relationship with India to the next level and said the Trump and Narendra Modi Administrations have a “unique opportunity” to make it happen.
“As Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi said in his latest campaign, ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai,’ or ‘Modi makes it possible’, I’m looking forward to exploring what’s possible between our people,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo is scheduled to meet Narendra Modi and his new counterpart later this month in New Delhi. Pompeo and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankarlisted out some of the “big ideas and big opportunities” that can take the bilateral relationship to a new level.
Giving a sneak preview of his India mission, he said he truly believes the two nations have a unique opportunity to move forward together for the good of their peoples, the Indo-Pacific region, and the world.
From June 24 to 30, Pompeo will be traveling to India, Japan, South Korea, and Sri Lanka to deepen the U.S. partnerships in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
Pompeo said, under Donald Trump’s presidency the United States has taken defense cooperation to newer heights, solidified their common vision for the Indo-Pacific and taken a far tougher stand on Pakistan’s unacceptable support for terrorism.
Now the Modi and Trump Administrations have a “unique opportunity to take this special partnership even further”, Pompeo said he has a strong partner in his new counterpart, Jaishankar, a former ambassador to the United States.
“He said in a speech in April that he’s ready to cultivate warmer relations with America – and the feeling is mutual. We want to move ahead,” he said and enumerated how that can be done.
First, the two countries have to build ever-stronger relationships, he said.
“Forging strong ties means formalizing these individual friendships. Last year, we kicked off the ‘2+2 dialogue’ alongside the Department of Defence. We’ve also reinvigorated the Quad Dialogue among India, the United States, Japan, and Australia - all like-minded democracies in the Indo-Pacific. These are all good steps,” he said.
India and the U.S., he said, must embrace the strategic framework that works for both the nations. “We respect India as a sovereign power, with its own unique politics and strategic challenges. We realize it’s different to deal with the likes of China or Pakistan from across an ocean than across a border,” he said.
Making a strong case for a free and open Indo-Pacific, he said it starts from the premise that the two share common values of freedom, democracy, and a belief in the ingenuity of the human spirit. “It’s only natural that the world’s most populous democracy should partner with the world’s oldest democracy to maintain their shared vision for the Indo-Pacific.” “Third, we have to deliver,” Pompeo said.
The Trump Administration has thus far enabled American firms to export more high technology items to India, including cutting-edge defense platforms like ballistic missile defense systems and armed UAVs. “We’ve already launched the Asia-EDGE program, to help India raise private capital to meet its energy security and access needs,” he said.
“These are solid achievements, but we want to do much more. We clearly have overlapping interests in defense, energy, and space,” said the top American diplomat.
Pompeo said the first batch of India’s Apache helicopters is coming off Boeing’s production line in Arizona. Boeing’s F/A-18 and Lockheed Martins F-21 are state-of-the-art fighters that could give India the abilities it requires to become a full-fledged security provider in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
“On energy, we want to complete the Westinghouse civil nuclear project, and deliver more American LNG and crude,” he said adding that these steps will give Indians reliable and abundant energy and help cut down dependence on regimes like Venezuela and Iran.
On space, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is already working with the Indian Space Research Organization on the world’s most advanced earth-observation satellite and India’s second lunar mission.
But in some of the key trade and business issues, the differences remain, he acknowledged. “But we remain open to dialogue and hope our Indian friends will drop their trade barriers and trust in the competitiveness of their exporters and private-sector companies,” he said.
Pompeo said the U.S. will also push for the free flow of data across bordersnot just to help American companiesbut to protect data and ensure consumer privacy.
He further said the U.S. is keen to help India set up secure communications networksincluding 5G networks.
By Sowmya Sangam