On February 24, the heads of state of two of the world’s largest democracies met after Air Force One landed at Ahmedabad Airport in India. A 36-hour-long itinerary rolled out as the president of the United States stepped off the plane to a huge photo opportunity – two strongmen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump, hugging each other. A tri-service Guard of Honor presented arms as Trump beamed.
However, was the visit all optics, or was it able to stop the cracks that had begun to appear in the Indo-US relationship and reaffirm the faith of those who had hoped that it would serve to be a pivot of a stabilizing order in the Indo-Pacific region?
Notwithstanding the expectations, a few milestones that this meeting created are worth mentioning. Trump’s visit was the first ever India-only itinerary for an American president visiting the country. Nor has it ever been that a US president has been felicitated by more than 110,000 people congregating in a stadium in Ahmedabad to say “Namaste Trump.”
Possibly one of the best article on analysis of this historic visit.
Though US would like I s to be more active in QUAD and in countering China in S China Sea and in Asia , India hasn’t towed the US line but for an occasional joint patrol in S China Sea.
This is so because with China, India has a bilateral trade of $ 86 bn , China too is a major investment destination for Indian entrepreneurs and vice versa .
India also realises that China is economically too far advanced to challenge its economic dominance in Asia .
India also realises the importance of regional cooperation and also it’s growing importance in SCO where China, Russia are its important partners .
US however has its economic and military on China and doesn’t want it to emerge and disturb therefore the existing world order but this effort sans the primacy of evolution.
Space is one strategic space where India can obtain path breaking technology from US and also learn Space W Strategy from the new US Space Command and India is hopeful on this account.
US withdrawal from Afghanistan will make Indian Assets in Afghanistan vulnerable to attack by Pakistan’s proxy armies, a repeat of 2008 Kabul embassy attack which left 66 Indians incl the DA killed .This is a matter of concern US can help address by facilitating a peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan and by involving SCO nations in re construction of Afghanistan, with adequate financial help. And this too must / may have been discussed .
It will be prudent to mention here that in Xi-Modi meeting at Wuhan, the joint communique included the agreement of India and China being on the same page in relation to Afghanistan.
India too would have pressurised US to give waiver under CAATSAA for purchase of S 400 from
Russia and waiver of sanctions to buy Oil and Gas from Iran and Venezuela , though there is no press comminique on these.
Development of Chahbahar in Iran and a rail link to SW Afghanistan is Strategically important for India to circumvent Pakistan’s landmass, in its efforts to be an active partner of Afghanistan in years to come. This needs an US assurance of sparing Indian assets from destruction in case an US – Iran war does take place.