Calling India one of the “few trusted and like-minded countries”, US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo on Wednesday said, while referring to the June 15 clash between Chinese and Indian troops in Ladakh, that he is confident they will be able to protect their interests with “concerted efforts”.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, speaking elsewhere at the same event, said that the US needs to “learn to work…with a more multipolar world” and “go beyond alliances with which it has grown up over the last two generations”.
Addressing the India Ideas Summit, organised by the US India Business Council, Pompeo said: “Recent clashes initiated by the PLA (of China) are just the latest examples of the CCP’s (Communist Party of China) unacceptable behaviour. We are deeply saddened by the death of 20 Indian service members (in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley). I am confident that with our concerted efforts we will be able to protect our interests,”
Speaking at another session of the summit, Jaishankar said, “I think the US really has to learn to work in a sense with a more multipolar world, with more plurilateral arrangements, go beyond alliances with which really it has grown up over the last two generations. There will be issues on which our convergence will be more, somewhere it could be less. I think the quest in the last 20 years and I see that continuing into the future is really to find more common ground.”
“We have the ability today by working together to shape the world,” he said, and underlined the areas of maritime security counterterrorism, pandemic, climate change, knowledge economy.
Jaishankar said that having worked with several US administrations in the past and the current one, his sense is that Washington has, over the years, looked at ways to engage countries like India more effectively. “Perhaps they did less consciously in the past; they now need to do it more purposefully,” he said.
Pompeo said the US has never been more supportive of India’s security, and called New Delhi “an important and a key pillar” of US President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
“We don’t just interact on a bilateral basis. We see each other for what we are — great democracies, global powers, really good friends,” Pompeo said. “India is one of a few trusted, like-minded countries whose leaders I call on a regular basis for counsel and collaboration on issues that span continents. I’m grateful in particular to minister Jaishankar and his friendship, for his sage advice.”
He said, “It’s important that democracies like ours work together, especially as we see more clearly than ever the true scope of the challenge posed by the CCP. Our infrastructure projects, our supply chains, our sovereignty and our people’s health and safety are all at risk.”
Pompeo said, “India has a chance to check global supply chains away from China and reduce reliance on Chinese companies in areas (of) telecommunications, medical supplies and others.”
He said: “India is in this position because it has earned the trust of many nations around the world, including the US. But to achieve these worthy goals India will need to encourage an environment that is more open to increase trade and investment. And I’m confident our partnership is only getting stronger. Let’s emerge from this current challenge more resilient and innovative. Let’s seize this moment to deepen cooperation…”
On the issue of trade, Jaishankar said, “While we work through trade issues we need to think bigger. In terms of trade, I would say the last few years have been dominated by a conversation about your complaints and our complaints and, depending on where you sit…it looks a little bit different.”
He said, “My sense says it’s in our mutual interest, and I know Mr Goyal [Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, who addressed the summit on Tuesday] stated that very clearly that we need to resolve the…pending problems and move on to something bigger. I think there’s a lot of interest here in doing that.”
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