It is reported by the Indian media that on June 29, 2018, the US abruptly scrapped much-awaited high-level talks with India over the growing conflict of interest between the two countries. According to the US officials, the US has conveyed the message that the talks are being postponed due to ‘unavoidable reasons’.
Although the so-called 2+2 dialogues have been scrapped for the second time, in an earlier effort, the meeting in March was postponed due to a reform in Trump’s administration when he fired the then secretary of state Rex Tillerson and the latest scrapped one was scheduled for July 6 this year.
Later on that evening, a state department spokesperson reassured that the US-India relationship was a major priority for the Trump administration and the US had been looking forward to continuing to strengthen the partnership. The spokesperson also said that India’s central role in the US national security was enshrined in the President’s National Security Strategy and the US welcomed India’s emergence as a leading global power and stronger strategic and defence partner. According to his statement the 2+2 talks “would be rescheduled as soon as possible at a mutually convenient time and location.” Some analyst thinks that the meeting will be rescheduled after the Trump-Putin meeting which is due on July 16 at Helsinki, Finland.
Last year in late June, Modi’s first visit to the US after the inauguration of Trump administration had an uncomfortable background. On 2nd June, Trump invectively said that New Delhi had received “billions” of dollars in return for signing the Paris climate deal. In a denunciatory tone, the US president Donald Trump said, “India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries.” Many suspect Trump’s tirade comments on India before Modi’s visit to the US was a tactical approach to get an upper hand in the bilateral negotiation table.
As the officer, state department spokesperson said that the US had been welcoming India’s emergence as stronger strategic and defence partner, it is true that the both India and the US need each other in the South Asia and the Indian Ocean region to check and contain Chinese influences. Author’s article clearly informed his readers that India had signed Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the US and LEMOA enables American access to Indian military facilities for supplies and repairs. And to become a full-fledged defence partner of the US, India has to sign four agreements, although India had signed two and expecting to sign the rest two in the foreseeable future.
During the previous BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule, the US and India signed General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002. Nonetheless, Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geospatial Intelligence are the two pending ones. Therefore, the US still has halfway to go about pursuing its full potential geostrategic objectives regarding the Indian Ocean region and South Asia.
Since the postponement of the talks came when Washington and New Delhi relationship is strained for the US threat of sanctions against India if she purchases S-400 missile system from Russia, and keep on purchasing oil from Iran, this abrupt declaration of scrapping the important 2+2 talk may be a calculated job. Meanwhile, the US ambassador to the UN Haley had been visiting New Delhi when Washington declared the postponement. Some analysts believe that the timing of the scrapping talks declaration was to give a leverage in negotiation to Nikki Haley while she had been dealing her Indian counterparts.
The US decision looks like an abrupt crack in the US-Indian relationship, but in reality, it is one of the periodicals and sustaining of American diplomatic, economic and strategic pressures on India so that India curbs down Russian, Iranian and Chinese geostrategic and geoeconomic dependency. According to the Economic Times- an English language Indian newspaper, the US may try to discourage India from purchasing of S-400 air defence missile from Russia and offer to opt instead for THAAD missile systems.
In author’s, another article where he warned that India should think carefully and deprioritize dealings with the US and Western powers which are declining and situated thousands of kilometres away from its border and planted mines of conflicts and chaos all over Eurasian land mass. The author suggested in that particular paper that India should not oppose the CPEC project and it should refrain from closing the door to China envisioned Belt and Road initiative. Instead, India should welcome China’s win-win project with the necessary bargaining to make South Asia well connected for mutual development and prosperity. And finally, the author believes that If India continues to prioritize the US under present circumstances, “she may find herself isolated from the recent trend in Eurasian geoeconomics and tormented with domestic economic and political crises”.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.