Takeaways from the First India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue

The much awaited first India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue concluded successfully on September 22, enhancing the partnership between the two countries. A host of issues were discussed and there were a few takeaways between the two countries.

“A main takeaway from our discussions includes our shared view that we need to keep the big picture, the strategic framework of relationship in mind, especially when it comes to our strategic security and political interests, regionally as also internationally, as also when we deal with transactional issues,” India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.

One of the major takeaways was the setting up of a new mechanism of dialogue between India’s Foreign Secretary and US Deputy Secretary of State on regional and global issues. This would lay the ground for enhancing cooperation between the two countries on major global issues.

The two countries also decided to elevate the Secretary-level trilateral with Japan to a Ministerial-level. Kerry and Swaraj would meet their Japanese counterpart in New York next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.

The growing collaboration between India, US and Japan is viewed as an anti-China alliance by members in China’s strategic community and many analysts in the world. Ms Swaraj and Mr Kerry however, denied any such intent. “This is bilateral dialogue,” Ms Swaraj said adding that any apprehension about India and US coming together against China is mistaken. There is no effort about India and US coming together to increase their influence in any part of the world, she added. “It has nothing to do with China,” Mr Kerry asserted. There is no message intended to be sent to China through this strategic and commercial dialogue, he added.

Another major takeaway was India and the US decided to train troops in six African countries before they are deployed on a UN Peacekeeping mission. India has been the largest contributor to peacekeeping missions since its inception, having sent about 180,000 troops till date to participate in UN peacekeeping missions worldwide.

In a boost to India’s nuclear ambitions, the US reiterated its support for India’s membership of the four major multilateral export control regimes including the NSG. Ever since the civilian nuclear agreement took place between the two countries 10 years ago, India has been trying to secure a membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which would make it one of the few privileged countries to get access to the elite club of powerful nuclear countries.

The biggest takeaway from the dialogue has been a joint declaration between the two countries to combat terrorism. The two countries have decided to advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation by reaffirming their support for a UN Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism.

India’s aspires for greater participation in internet governance organisations such as ICANN and related bodies. The two sides agreed to convene a Track 1.5 programme for further cooperation on internet and cyber issues.

Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges and widely discussed issue in contemporary times. India and the US have agreed to maintain close consultation in the run-up to the COP-21, the Paris Conference of Parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. India has made its stand on climate change clear with focus on mitigation as well as adaptation.

The two countries are also exploring a US-India Technology Safeguards Agreement to facilitate US satellite components on Indian commercial space launch vehicles for another 10 years.