In the face of major global challenges such terrorism, bilateral defence ties and the security in the Indo-Pacific region, Modi government and the Donald Trump administration have decided to establish a new dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers of the two countries. Both listed diplomatic and strategic interests as top priorities in their bilateral relationship. What makes India-US relationship more important than ever are their shared views on maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
The new changes mark a shift from the previous US administration’s policies and will seek to replace the existing dialogue format between the commerce and foreign ministers of India and the United States of America, started by the Barack Obama administration.
Here are some of the key announcements made between PM Modi and Donald Trump:
1. The new dialogue format between the two countries is likely to be “2 by 2”, which is similar to the India-Japan 2+2 dialogue format between foreign and defence secretaries of the two countries.
2. The purpose of the dialogue was to put defence and security issues at the forefront and centre of the relationship between India and US.
3. This new mechanism was discussed on Tuesday between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over the phone.
4. In a statement to the media about US President Donald Trump’s phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of India’s Independence Day, the White House hinted at the new format: “The leaders resolved to enhance peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region by establishing a new two-by-two ministerial dialogue that will elevate their strategic consultations.” The White House, however, did not give any details of the mechanism.
5. Top government sources told The Indian Express that a preliminary conversation took place during Modi’s visit to Washington DC this June, and has been worked on in the last month and half. The idea, sources said, came during the conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his American counterpart Gen (retd) H R McMaster in the early months of the new administration, given the convergence in views on security, defence, regional and global situation. The conversation was followed up by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar who met US officials during his trips in the last six months.
6. Both India and US felt that the present format of the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue is not living up to its promise and potential, despite the efforts to put together scheduled meetings of four top ministers in both governments.
7. United States and India also pledged to maintain stability and peace in the Indo-Pacific region. In a statement, the White House said: “The leaders resolved to enhance peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region by establishing a new two-by-two ministerial dialogue that will elevate their strategic consultations.”
8. Besides, security issues, the White House said Donald Trump was also very optimistic about the energy relations between the two countries as the first-ever shipment of American crude oil to India from Texas is scheduled to begin this month.
9. The White House also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked President Trump in the manner in which the latter was able to unite the world against North Korea, the country headed by Kim Jong-un which has threatened to attack the US with its nuclear missiles.