US-India strategic ties to grow in 2018

India’s relationship with the United States is expected to continue to grow in the New Year, analysts say. The new US security plan released last week said: “We will deepen our strategic partnership with India and support its leadership role in the Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region.” Washington also pledged to increase quadrilateral cooperation with Japan, Australia and India. “We welcome India’s emergence as a leading global power and stronger strategic and defence partner. We will seek to increase quadrilateral cooperation with Japan, Australia and India.”

After US President Donald Trump gave a leadership role to India in his new “America First Security Strategy”, New Delhi voiced appreciation for Washington laying importance to the bilateral relationship.

“We appreciate the strategic importance given to India-US relationship in the new National Security Strategy released by the US,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said last week. “As two responsible democracies, India and the US share common objectives, including combating terrorism and promoting peace and security throughout the world,” Kumar said.

In November, India, the US, Japan and Australia held a quadrilateral meeting in the Philippines on the sidelines of the East Asia and Asean Summits to discuss the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.

This assumes significance given China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea and attempts to increase its influence in the Indian Ocean. Kumar said: “A close partnership between India and the US contributes to peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as to the economic progress of the two countries.”

Trump’s security strategy also stated that the US would continue to push Pakistan to speed up its counter-terrorism efforts. “We will press Pakistan to intensify its counter-terrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists who target a partner’s own service members and officials,” it said.

The India-US relationship is going to get stronger and better under the Trump administration in a wide range of areas, including regional security issues, trade and economy, terrorism, a senior White House official has said.

“India is a natural ally of the United States, because of the shared commitment to democracy and to counterterrorism, and because the region is so vital to the US security,” Raj Shah, the White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary, told a group of India . Shah’s comments came hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump held their second bilateral meeting in Manila on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit.

The two countries are going to have a “strong relationship and it’s going to get stronger” under this president, Shah, the highest-ranking Indian-American ever in the White House press wing, told a group of Indian reporters last week.

“India is a natural ally of the United States, because of the shared commitment to democracy and to counterterrorism, and because the region is so vital to the US security,” he said. Shah said that the US-India relationship should stand on its own leg and “not be contingent” on any other relationship.

There are a lot more in common between India and the US than that between the US and China, he said. “The relationship with Modi is his relationship with Modi. He likes (him),” he added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the United States on 25-26 June at the invitation of the new President of the United States Donald trump. This was Modi’s first meeting with Trump, although the two leaders had spoken to each other on three occasions after Trump won the election. One call was made by Modi and two by Trump, the last one being by Trump in end-March to congratulate Modi for the emphatic victory of the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh elections.

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