New Delhi, April 1
While the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) door is open for engagement with India, it will not be invited at this stage to any of the military bloc’s high-level meetings “until we knew more about their interest in engaging the Alliance more broadly,’’ said a top NATO official.
“I think the message that has already been sent back to India is that the NATO Alliance certainly is open to more engagement with India should that country take an interest in pursuing that. I think there’s certainly a willingness here to sit down at any time should India desire to do so,’’ said US Permanent Representative to NATO Julianne Smith at a virtual media briefing.
So far, she said there have been just some informal exchanges among NATO officials and some representatives from India at the Raisina Dialogue, she added.
Though NATO has been engaging with countries in the region, there is no move to give them membership, she clarified. “We increasingly are bringing our friends from the Indo-Pacific into NATO Headquarters, into ministerials…membership is not something that we’ve really considered with anyone in the Indo-Pacific or the Asia Pacific. There are no plans by the Alliance to expand this into a broader global military alliance,’’ observed Smith.
Four countries from the Indo-Pacific will be invited for the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Brussels on April 4 and 5, she said. They include two Quad partners, Australia and Japan, besides South Korea and New Zealand. These four countries had joined the NATO Summit last year in Madrid, and also for the first time joined a NATO foreign ministerial in April 2022.
“Five, six, seven years, you would find that NATO didn’t have a particularly rich agenda with the countries in the Indo-Pacific. But in recent years, NATO has started to include mention of the Asia Pacific and the Indo-Pacific, first and foremost in some of its strategic documents,’’ said Smith.
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