WASHINGTON: 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.”
The arc of convergence widened between the world’s largest and oldest democracies as India and the US agreed to join hands to destroy and eliminate the scourge of radical Islamist terrorism and expand their “mutually beneficial” economic and strategic partnership.
“A True Friend in White House”
Glowing in his trademark red tie, Mr Trump was the picture of poise as he assured his Indian guest that India has “a true friend in the White House,” and rhapsodised about India’s accelerating economic growth and leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
Uniting against Terror
“We are both determined to destroy radical Islamist terrorism,” said Mr Trump at a joint media statement with Mr Modi in Rose Garden of the White House on June 26. He spoke about reducing trade deficit and leveraging expanding trade and investment with India to create more American jobs, but he appeared less transactional and genuinely interested in India and the India opportunity. Mr Trump’s pointed remarks on terrorism and his praise of India’s role in Afghanistan was music to the ears of the Indian leader, who also identified terrorism as one of the top shared priorities and pitched for enhanced counter-terror cooperation through intelligence-sharing. Predictably and rightfully, Mr Modi called for enhanced India-US cooperation in eliminating sanctuaries of terrorism – a veiled but obvious swipe at Pakistan.
Raising the bar for strategic and security partnership, Mr Modi called form widening the India-US cooperation in the Indo-Pacific cooperation to deal with emerging challenges – a disguised reference to China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.
At the end of his maiden meeting with his American host, Mr Modi looked upbeat and made a compelling case for a synthesis between his vision of New India and Trump’s promise of Making America Great Again. The talks were successful and fruitful, Mr Modi said, and invited Mr Trump to visit India soon. Mr Modi glowingly describing his first talks with the maverick US president as “the most important chapter” in the history of bilateral relations.
A New Chapter
The details of the one-on-one and delegation level talks are sketchy, and will be more adequately reflected in the joint statement, but it seems Mr Modi has succeeded in forging a personal chemistry with Mr Trump to start a new chapter in India-US relations, which will build on the preceding transformative decade and opens new avenues for taking this mutually empowering partnership to new heights.
“The joint media statement by the two leaders clearly indicates a convergence on vital issues like terrorism, Pakistan and Afghanistan on the one hand, and reaffirms the centrality of the US in India’s development and national resurgence agenda,” says Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network and India and World magazine. “The talks in Washington should assuage the Trump anxiety that seemed to haver gripped a section of India’s diplomatic-strategic establishment,” said Mr Chand. But he cautioned: “It’s a good start, but the devil as well as God lies in details.”
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