Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump struck a common note on terrorism as they met for the first time at the White House last week during PM Modi US Visit. The two leaders vowed to fight against terrorism confirming that it was their topmost priority. Both countries also pledged to deepen their security and defence cooperation. US cleared the sale of Predator-Guardian drones to India which builds on the US’s recognition of India as the major defence partner.
Analysis | PM Modi US Visit
- The delegation-level talks between India and the US carried Secretary of State, Defence Secretary, Commerce Secretary, Treasury Secretary and the National Security Advisor of the US, from the US side, despite the fact that such a huge representation was missing from India’s side. This high powered representation from the US showed that it is serious about India and wishes to expand their cooperation in every field apart from security and trade.
- United States reaffirmed its commitment to support India’s candidature for a permanent seat at the reformed United Nations Security Council.
PM Modi US Visit | Security cooperation
- In a surprise move, the Department of State of the US tagged HizbulMujahideen chief ‘Syed Salahudeen’ as a terrorist for inciting violence in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. This action went off as unexpected assault for the Pakistani authorities protecting the acclaimed terrorist residing in Pakistan.
- United States vocally supported India’s position vis-à-vis CPEC and its violation of India’s sovereignty in terms of it passing through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
- India’s requests for increasing and not receding the role of the US in Afghanistan was positively acknowledged with Defence Secretary James Mattis confirming that the US will increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. This decision is in sharp contrast to the previous Obama Administration which vowed to reduce the role of the US in Afghanistan. India’s concerns were addressed positively and the joint statement confirmed the same. The US confirmed in the joint statement that actions against safe havens of terrorists is acceptable, which signalled a support for India’s surgical strikes in Pakistan’s terrorist camps in PoK. It also confirmed that drone strikes at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border will resume and will be intensified.
PM Modi US Visit | Trade cooperation
- India has a favourable balance of trade (about $24 billion) with the US. President Trump wishes to expand trade cooperation but wants to renegotiate the trade arrangements with the world in US’s favour. As the trade surplus is not high enough or tilted in favour of India, so the President is not willing to renegotiate the trade related arrangements with India.
- A deal for the purchase of huge numbers of civilian aircrafts from the US was announced which was joyfully welcomed by the US President as it would create jobs in the US, which is the primary agenda of President Trump.
US confirmed that it would not come in India’s way of getting climate finance from the World Bank or even green technology transfer from the United States itself. This was a positive assurance from the US in return for India’s strategic non-interference in President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Deal.
PM Modi US Visit | Concerns
- US announcement for the sale of Predator-Guardian drones were constrained by the fact that the armed drones’ sale was withheld with only surveillance capability drones (maritime surveillance) being given clearance for the sale. Nonetheless, India’s capability of armed attack is not constrained by this sale but the surveillance capabilities would be increased which is the prime target for India against a belligerent China.
- India is also negotiating to purchase ‘shale gas’ from the US in the near future but the sale of it was tied up in the regulatory mess in the US.
- India’s issues with the H1-B visas and the Paris Climate Deal was untouched due to the fact that this visit was aimed to focus on the positive deliverables.
- High tariffs, IPR issue and regulatory cholesterol were the major issues highlighted by the US side on trade front with India to which India reaffirmed its commitment to streamline the process and positively projected the steps taken in this regard.
Conclusion | PM Modi US Visit
President Trump has signalled his administration that he is fond of India and that he wishes to continue the policies of strong Indo-US relationship set by his predecessors. This visit of Prime Minister Modi provided a much-needed impetus to the Indo-US relationship after the ascension of President Trump to the White House. The visit was focused on positive deliverables and both sides restrained from discussing the contentious issues of trade and immigration. The security and defence cooperation was further strengthened with opening another door of cooperation in tackling cross-border terrorism.