Quad Quandary: Modi, Trump step up strategic connect in balancing Asia

Quad Quandary: Modi, Trump step up strategic connect in balancing Asia


Amid the mutating strategic landscape in Asia and the new geostrategic configuration of Quadrilateral as a backdrop, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with US President Donald Trump in Manila that focused on bolstering India’s military capability and enhancing strategic connect in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Modi-Trump meeting at a glitzy hotel in Manila on November 13 was watched closely in the region amid a collective effort by the leaders of ASEAN and East Asia Summit countries to shape an inclusive regional architecture and China’s declared ambition to be a global power.
The meeting between Mr Modi and Mr Trump lasted for 52 minutes, much beyond the allotted time, signalling that despite a slew of back-to-back meetings both leaders had serious business to discuss. “There was a broad review of strategic landscape in Asia,” India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar told reporters at Manila Marriott hotel, where PM Modi with his entourage is staying.
Mr Trump was all praise for Mr Modi, suggesting a deepening personal chemistry between the two leaders. “He’s become a friend of ours and a great gentleman doing a fantastic job in bringing around lots of factions in India — bringing them all together,” he said.
Bonhomie and backslapping apart, the overarching thrust of the discussions was on spurring the rise of India as a major global power and enhanced coordination in the Asia-Pacific, with an eye on containing China.
The White House read-out on the Trump-Modi meeting underlined “shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
They pledged to enhance their cooperation as Major Defense Partners, resolving that two of the world’s great democracies should also have the world’s greatest militaries,” said the White House.

Trump’s Asia tour: What’s on the table?


Amidst tensions simmering in the Asia-Pacific with regard to North Korea’s rapid nuclear programme and the US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership, US President Donald Trump’s five-nation Asian marathon will be a testing time for American diplomacy under its unpredictable leader. Mr Trump, accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump will be visiting Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and Philippines in one of the longest tour of Asia in 25 years by an American President.

Pakistan important but needs to do more to fight terror: Tillerson


More than two months after US President Donald Trump called out Pakistan for providing “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered an unequivocal message to Pakistan to dismantle its terror infrastructure or face consequences.
In Islamabad, Mr. Tillerson held extensive talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. During the talks, Tillerson said that Pakistan is “so important regionally to our joint goals of providing peace and security to the region and providing opportunity for greater economic relationship,” but it was important for Islamabad to keep its commitment on fighting terror.
Assuring his country’s continued support, Pakistani PM told Mr. Tillerson: “We have produced results. And we are looking forward to moving ahead with the US and building a tremendous relationship.” He added, “The US can rest assured that we are strategic partners in the war against terror and that today Pakistan is fighting the largest war in the world against terror.”

Diwali light for India-US relations: Trump lauds Modi & India, Indian-Americans


Is it Diwali time for India-US relations? Clearly, there is a lot to cheer about, and the reassuring Diwali message from US President Donald Trump should light up the spirit of his “friend,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a gesture reaffirming his commitment to deepening India-US relations, the flamboyant American president, along with his daughter Ivanka, celebrated the Hindu festival of lights – Diwali – at the White House. The Diwali bash was attended by many prominent Indian-Americans in the Trump administration, including Nikki Haley (US Ambassador to the UN), Seema Verma (Administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and Ajit Pai (Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission). A video of the Diwali celebrations at White House was posted on the president’s Facebook page.
In hosting the Diwali celebrations at the White House, Mr Trump was continuing the tradition followed by his predecessors. But given the upswing in India-US relations during the first few months of his administration, despite initial apprehensions about policy volatility, there is a lot to cheer about how this vital relationship is shaping up.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the US in June and his first meeting with Trump had set an ambitious, multi-layered agenda for upscaling India-US relations across the spectrum.

Modi, Trump strike a new symphony: Blending New India with Making America Great…


The India-US partnership has acquired a new Trump stamp with the US president confidently asserting that the future of this crucial relationship “never looked brighter,” and Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlining a harmonious blending of his vision of a New India and Donald Trump’s anthem of “Making America Great Again.”

Trump-Modi dinner: What’s cooking, what’s on menu?


It promises to be a gourmet meal as the leaders of the world’s oldest and largest democracies have their first full-spectrum meeting and dinner in Washington DC on June 26. The buzz and hype surrounding India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fifth visit to the US is relatively subdued – the carnival-like festive atmosphere and feverish energy that marked his first visit to the US, with his rock-star like show at Madison Square Garden, in September 2014 seems a distant echo, but even though the horizon of expectations has shrunk there are still some appetising dishes on the table which both sides can pick and choose to suit their taste and some serious business to transact.
Looking ahead, cutting through minutiae and complexity of issues, the really important question for India is whether the new US president believes in a “New India” which PM Modi is trying to create and whether this new India synthesises with Trump’s promise of Making America Great Again. If there is win-win fit, then indeed the chronic “hesitations of history” will be passe, and a new symphony can steer India-US relations onto a higher trajectory. Read more…

Trump puts America First: New H-1B visa regime to hurt Indian IT firms


In a fraught move for India, the US Department of Homeland Security has announced that it would crack down on fraudulent use of H-1B visas,⋅⋅⋅

Mattis-Parrikar talk: US assures India of sustaining momentum in defence ties


Amid anxiety in India over the Trump administration’s H1B visa policy, there is a reassuring note from Washington about sustaining the momentum in burgeoning defence relations between India and the US. Days after US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Secretary James Mattis spoke to his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar and underscored the new administration’s commitment to build upon the transformation in India-US defence relations accomplished in the last few years.
In the first conversation between the two defence ministers since the change of guard in Washington, Secretary Mattis committed to build upon the tremendous progress in bilateral defense cooperation made in recent years, underscoring the strategic importance of the US—India relationship and India’s role in advancing global peace and security,” Pentagon Press Secretary Capt Jeff Davis said in Washington DC on February 8.
On the strategic and security side, the signalling from the Trump administration has been largely positive. In his telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trump had assured that the US “considers India a true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world.” The two leaders also decided to bolster the partnership between the United States and India in broad areas such as the economy and defense.

Trump sings America First anthem


With the stirring anthem of “Making America Great Again” and the mantra of America First to empower the country’s “forgotten men and women,” Donald J. Trump was sworn in as 45th president of the US at Capitol in Washington D.C on Friday noon (January 20). It was vintage Trump in many ways as he enunciated his core message of focusing on America’s economic resurgence and staying away from distractions of internationalism. “From this day forward, a new vision will vision will govern our land. It’s going to be only, America,” said Mr Trump in his typical straight talk. The message coming out from the inauguration speech was unambiguous: under Trump’s watch, the US will be more focused on the domestic agenda, with the overarching objective of restoring prosperity to millions of Americans who, as he has consistently argued, have ended as losers of globalisation. There was hardly any utterance on the America’s leadership in the world, except a terse statement about reinforcing old alliances and forming new ones. Mr Trump’s clarion call for uniting the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism and his promise that the US under his watch “will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth,” will be closely dissected in capitals of the world, and signal a muscular national security posture, which could entangle the US in a new global war on terror.

The Trump Anxiety Index: Why India needn’t worry


The spectacular headline-hogging victory of billionaire tycoon and reality TV star Donald Trump, who took charge as the 45th president of the US on January 20, has unsettled the global consensus about America’s leadership and position in a conflicted and mutating world order.
Nearly all parts of the world, impacted by the US’ policies directly or indirectly, are speculating feverishly about the ramifications of the Trump presidency. The dominant sentiments are that of anxiety, befuddlement, uncertainty and unpredictability. These disparate worries and apprehensions can be coalesced and crystallised in the Trump Anxiety Index (TIA), which will rise and decrease in proportion to the policy and postures his presidency will adopt towards major cross-cutting issues.
The questions are proliferating by the day, but the Trump anxiety is more pronounced in some countries and regions of the world. On a scale of 1 to 10 on Trump Anxiety Index, China, Mexico and Pakistan will score high, maybe 7-8. By contrast, India scores low, maybe 3-4.
Why India is not so much worried about the Trump presidency? The answer to this all-important question is not all that esoteric. While there is some speculation about a possible reset in India-US relations in some areas, the picture is largely positive and optimistic, and it won’t be an exaggeration to say that there will be more continuity than disruption and potential subversion.
Looking ahead, the picture for India-US relations is largely optimistic, albeit the road ahead is fraught with some challenges and imponderables. Both George Bush Junior and President Obama had raised the bar for what the latter has called “the defining partnership of the 21st century,” and it is now up to President Trump to seize the initiative and leave his indelible imprimatur on this important relationship. Trump’s dream of Making America Again should blend with continued support for India’s rise, the ongoing project of making India great again. The hesitations of history, as PM Modi famously said, are well behind us, and it’s time for the world’s largest democracies to compose a new symphony amid challenges, uncertainty and free-floating anxiety. Read more…