India-US dialogue focuses on conflicts

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India-US dialogue focuses on conflicts

Friday, 17 November 2023 | Kumardeep Banerjee

India-US dialogue focuses on conflicts

Ample time was dedicated to the various battles raging across geographies

The recently concluded 2+2 dialogue between India and the US, underscores the warmth in the bilateral relations both countries have carefully nurtured in the last decade or so, in a bipartisan manner. It is by no means a coincidence that the dialogue took place, despite the US facing at least two, tough scenarios in Europe and West Asia, even as President Biden met his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the APEC summit this week. The dialogue established beyond doubt that the way forward plan for both countries is a firm reiteration of the role Indo-Pacific players ( without China) will have to warm up to.

A joint statement issued post the dialogue read, “The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of a free, open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific and renewed their shared desire to consolidate their dialogue and collaboration through the Quad. They emphasised the important role of the Quad as a force for global good for the peoples of the Indo-Pacific. The Ministers look forward to India hosting the next in-person Quad leaders’ Summit in 2024. The Ministers appreciated the ongoing efforts of the I2U2 countries to enhance food and energy security and improve the movement of people and goods across hemispheres. The Ministers also noted that the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor will enhance connectivity between Asia and Europe and will unlock new potential for economic growth in the two continents. They welcomed the relaunch of consultations between the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the U.S. Department of State on Africa, aimed at exploring potential trilateral cooperation in Africa. They also looked forward to convening the next round of East Asia Consultations between the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the U.S. Department of State at an early date.”

The dialogue dedicated ample time to the various battles raging across geographies, straining fragile multilateral balances, pulling down the financial systems of many developing countries, especially in the global South and pushing deadlines for the crucial conversations on climate change and the shift to cleaner energy. On Ukraine and Israel, it seems, India and the US have come to the same page as the statement read “The ministers expressed mutual deep concern over the war in Ukraine and its tragic humanitarian consequences.” They again underscored the growing impacts of this war on the global economic system and food security, with consequences predominantly affecting the global South. Both countries further pledged to continue humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine and concurred on the need for post-conflict reconstruction in Ukraine. Noting horrific terrorist attacks against Israel, the Ministers reiterated that India and the United States stand with Israel against terrorism and called for adherence to international humanitarian law, including about the protection of civilians.”

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden met his counterpart Chinese President Xi Jinping, trying to diffuse the frostiness in the US-China relationship. China has chosen its sides on the geo-political chess board. It supports Russia’s actions in Ukraine and is backing terrorists in West Asia. It would like to coerce fence-sitters to join its camp, vis a vis the US. India, like the US, faces a tough challenge, being in a democratic set-up, where they have to carefully articulate their foreign policy goals, while not hurting domestic influence groups. Both countries also face a tough electorate next year, as the incumbent federal governments seek re-election. The silver lining is that the business-as-usual attitude in the US India dialogue, signals a bright future for the bilateral relationship.

(The writer is a policy analyst; views are personal)

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