Modi and Trump all set to discuss bilateral relations and crucial strategic issues in geopolitical context

Lalit Shastri

Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Washington DC about two hours ago – close to midnight on June 24 (US time)- with prior announcement that he was keen to build a forward looking vision for Indo-US partnership with the new Administration in the United States under President Trump.

At the latest media briefing before Modi’s arrival in the US, the White House spokesperson James S. Brady responding to a question about the “face-to-face” meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Modi reiterated what the Indian Prime Minister had stated before taking off from New Delhi and said “during their meeting, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi will discuss ongoing cooperation, including counter-terrorism, defense partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, global cooperation, burden-sharing, trade, law enforcement, and energy.” “I think it’s going to be a very robust discussion” he went on to observe.

Obviously a discussion on counter-terrorism will cover a whole gamut of issues linked with Pakistan’s proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir, the terrorist launch pads in Pak occupied Kashmir (PoK) that are being used to send the so-called jehadis across the border to spread terror and also the role of Jaish-e-Mohammed, the jihadist group, which operates and runs facilities openly in Pakistan under different names since it was banned in that country a few years ago and is active in Kashmir. Then there is the LeT chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed – the mastermind behind the Mumbai attack in November 2008 – who continues to have a free run of Pakistan and is behind most terrorist attacks in Kashmir.

Any discussion on Afghanistan would also call for exposing the terror networks operating from Pakistan that are engaged in launching terror attacks and ensuring peace eludes that war torn country.

Defence partnership in the Indo-Pacific region is significant from the strategic geopolitcal context for both India and the US especially given China’s economic ambitions and its resultant presence or focused moves to wield control of sea lines and exert over-riding infleunce on littoral states in this region.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during his speech to the Indian Parliament on 22 August 2007 had quoted the title of a book authored by the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh in 1655. He had said “we are now at a point at which the Confluence of the Two Seas is coming into being. The Pacific and the Indian Oceans are now bringing about a dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity. A broader Asia that broke away geographical boundaries is now beginning to take on a distinct form. Our two countries have the ability — and the responsibility — to ensure that it broadens yet further and to nurture and enrich these seas to become seas of clearest transparence.”

It is hoped that Indo-US partnership not just endures but also strengthens the spirit, as defined by the Japanese Prime Minister, to counter the obvious moves by China to build its hegemony through CPEC and the One Belt One Road initiatives. India also has reason to worry due the Chinese “String of Pearls” or the network of Chinese military and commercial facilities along the sea lines of communication stretching from China to Port Sudan, which is the principal sea port of Sudan in the mouth of the gulf and has a petroleum refinery.

The terror network of the ISIS which has set foot even in India and also the threat its posing, besides the Syrian crisis and the recent development linked with the coalition of Sunni Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt, that have rallied forces against Qatar on the one side and against Iran on the other are issues that should also figure in discussions between Trump and Modi, It will especially be a tight rope walk for both the leaders when discussions would veer around Iran, the Syrian civil war and Russia (especially given its leanings towards Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as opposed to the US stand).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with PM of Portugal António Costa

Click here for Statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Portugal (June 24, 2017)

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