As India and the US on Tuesday elevated the partnership to India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership, the joint statement covered major areas of defence, terrorism, Afghanistan, and a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Parsing the document, and comparing it with the June 2017 joint statement, reveals some new elements and departures.
According to the statement issued late Tuesday, the two countries looked forward to an “early conclusion” of Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), expressed interest in the Blue Dot Network, added Haqqani network and Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan (TTP) in the list of terror groups against which concerted action are to be taken, reaffirmed US support for India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group “without any delay”.
Some key takeaways in the joint statement:
A thrust on “early conclusion of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement” is a key feature of the joint statement, as this is one of the last of the foundational agreements, and it largely pertains to geo-spatial intelligence requiring information sharing on maps and satellite imaging for defence purposes. The US has already submitted a draft pact, and India has sought more details on the extent of information needed to be shared under this arrangement.
“The leaders looked forward to early conclusion of defence cooperation enabling agreements, including Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement,” the statement said.
“Noting that a strong and capable Indian military supports peace, stability, and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, and reaffirming his pledge to support the transfer to India of advanced US military technology, President Trump welcomed India’s recent decision to procure MH-60R naval and AH-64E Apache helicopters,” it said.
Blue dot network
With China moving to expand its strategic footprint through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Blue Dot network, a new proposal to cover infrastructure and development projects across the region and other countries, found a mention.
Modi and Trump, the joint statement said, “expressed interest in the concept of the Blue Dot Network”, a multi-stakeholder initiative that will bring governments, the private sector, and civil society together to promote high-quality trusted standards for global infrastructure development. It said India and the US recognise that to contain the build-up of sovereign debt in developing and low-income countries, it is important to ensure responsible, transparent, and sustainable financing practices for borrowers and creditors.
Haqqani network and TTP in, CCIT out
There is just one paragraph on terrorism, and it omits any mention of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which was mentioned in the 2017 statement. But, names of the Haqqani network and TTP are included, along with terrorist groups LeT, JeM and Al Qaeda, which was missing in the 2017 statement. It mentioned Pakistan, cross-border terrorism and expeditiously bringing justice to the perpetrators of Mumbai and Pathankot terror attacks.
The statement said: “Prime Minister Modi and President Trump denounced any use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross-border terrorism in all its forms. They called on Pakistan to ensure that no territory under its control is used to launch terrorist attacks, and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot. They called for concerted action against all terrorist groups including Al-Qa’ida, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, TTP, D-Company, and all their affiliates.”
In a major development, the two sides have agreed on a common language, which was very identical to India’s traditional position, and even talked about India’s role in development and security assistance to Afghanistan. While it talks about Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, it does not mention Afghan-controlled –– since in reality the peace process is controlled by other players, including the US.
“India and the United States share interest in a united, sovereign, democratic, inclusive, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. They support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process that results in a sustainable peace; cessation of violence; elimination of terrorist safe havens; and preservation of the gains of the last 18 years. President Trump welcomed India’s role in continuing to provide development and security assistance to help stabilize and provide connectivity in Afghanistan,” the statement said.
The 2017 joint statement, issued during Modi’s visit to the White House, had said Trump welcomed further Indian contributions to promote Afghanistan’s democracy, stability, prosperity, and security. Recognizing the importance of their respective strategic partnerships with Afghanistan, the leaders committed to continue close consultations and cooperation in support of Afghanistan’s future,
Nuclear Suppliers Group
With India in other multilateral export control regimes, it said Trump reaffirmed US support for India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group “without any delay”.
“PM Modi and President Trump committed to working together to strengthen and reform the United Nations and other international organizations and ensure their integrity. President Trump reaffirmed the support of the United States for India’s permanent membership on a reformed U.N. Security Council. He also reaffirmed U.S. support for India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group without any delay.”
For Trump, this has been the most important issue. After months of negotiations, they were unable to come to a deal. But the joint statement said that the two countries “agreed to promptly conclude the ongoing negotiations, which they hope can become phase one of a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement that reflects the true ambition and full potential of the bilateral commercial relations, advancing prosperity, investment, and job creation in both countries”.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines