US approach to India remains selective

US approach to India remains selective

Modi and Trump today exchanged New Year greetings and also discussed the regional situation besides touching on way to strengthen Indo-US strategic partnership in 2020, according to a White House readout. - File photo

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 7

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has telephonically spoken to US President Donald Trump as has Foreign Minister S Jaishankar with his American counterpart after the assassination of Iranian Quds Force chief Major Gen Qassem Soleimani.

Modi and Trump today exchanged New Year greetings and also discussed the regional situation besides touching on way to strengthen Indo-US strategic partnership in 2020, according to a White House readout.

But Washington seems to be offering a selective partnership with India as evident from the series of damage-control phone calls to world leaders by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. India was missing from the list of first 15 leaders he called.

Pompeo’s message varied, from assuring continuing US protection to the likes of Bahrain, Israel and Qatar to promising de-escalation and detailing the reasons for killing Soleimani to Russia, China and Pakistan.

In contrast, the readout of Jaishankar and Pompeo conversation was the shortest — to discuss Iran’s continued provocations and threats to the region.” This, when India more than any other country will suffer the most if turmoil hits Iran.

The Gulf tension, apart from making awry India's carefully cultivated Chabahar port project in Iran, will also hit remittances to India as well. There was no acknowledgment of Indian sacrifices to uphold American national interest yet again.

In Venezuela too, India had to abandon a successful oil field because the US wanted to financially emasculate the Nicolas Maduro government. On the internal security front as well, India was not given the space to stabilise the situation in Kashmir or on the CAA\/NRC issue as compared to the free pass to China for a considerable period of time on a far worse subjugation of Uyghur in Xinjiang. The State Department has been disapproving while a section of the political class has gone on a virtual offensive against New Delhi’s Kashmir policies. Three out of top four Democratic Party candidates for President – Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg – have been critical on Kashmir while the Indian voice went unrepresented or was cut short at a couple of hearings by US Congress panels.

In trade and immigration as well, India has come off as the bruised party. The US has not just withdrawn the zero duty preferential access to employment-generating duty-free Indian exports worth over Rs 40,000 crores but the old times of easy H-1B visas are now over.

The designation of Major Defence Partner (MDP) to India and the signing of foundational military cooperation agreements have given a fillip to US defence trade as well as to Indian involvement in Washington’s attempt to keep South China Sea free of domination by any one country.

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