US experts ask Donald Trump administration to make early connection with India

US experts ask Donald Trump administration to make early connection with India

Underlining that both India and the US stand to benefit greatly from deeper engagement, a group of three eminent experts from a top American...

Washington: Underlining that both India and the US stand to benefit greatly from deeper engagement, a group of three eminent experts from a top American think-tank have called on the incoming Donald Trump administration to establish an early connection with a "rising" India.

"Establishing an early connection with a rising, and like-minded, India could be an early win for the Trump administration," wrote three experts from Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) -- Kathleen H Hicks, DC Richard M Rossow and John Schaus.

"It will take regular efforts from senior-level officials across government departments and agencies to bring India and the United States closer together. As Secretary Carter's trip to India highlights, both countries stand to benefit greatly from deeper engagement," the op-ed said.

The India-US defence relationship, built over multiple administrations in both Washington and Delhi, has started to blossom in the past three years, it said.

"As President-elect Donald Trump and his national security team identify key priorities for his administration, continuing to strengthen US-India ties should be near the top of their agenda," CSIS experts said.

The CSIS observed that early outreach by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States signaled to both Washington and his own bureaucracy that he was serious about engagement.

"Similarly, President-elect Trump could send an important early signal of his intent to cooperate closely with India by arranging a meeting with Prime Minister Modi in the first 100 days President Trump is in office," it said.

Asserting that there are a wide range of issues to address, CSIS experts said the change in personnel that comes with a new American administration, combined with typical turnover within India's government, could lead both countries to "forget" the patterns of engagement and cooperation that have been so fruitful over the past two years.

In greater South Asia, it said the US increasingly sees India as a partner for solving enduring challenges.

This is not to say that US' relations with Pakistan or Afghanistan will neatly align with Indian positions or that the two countries will agree on every action, it noted.

"However, the strategic challenges facing both nations are drawing them closer as they seek ways to reach common objectives. Communication on shared interests and capabilities in South Asia is critical to ensure that the United States and India cooperate instead of compete in the region," the CSIS said.

It said the benefits to the US of stronger ties with India are growing with each new avenue of cooperation.

"Over the past three years, thanks largely to the joint efforts of Secretary Carter and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the two countries have advanced cooperation on issues ranging from military exercises to defence trade," the op-ed said.

"US defence firms have sold over $10 billion in defence equipment to India in the last decade, making India one of our largest defence markets. These acquisitions in turn, benefit India by giving its armed forces a significant capability boost while simultaneously increasing interoperability with the United States and other regional partners," it added.

Underscoring the importance of developing new ways to work with India, Secretary Carter created new mechanisms within the Pentagon to directly support the accelerated implementation of US-India cooperation - the 'India Rapid Reaction Cell' and the 'Defense Technology and Trade Initiative', the experts noted.

These initiatives have played a critical role in breaking through traditional bureaucratic roadblocks, enabling the two countries to sign an important agreement on logistics cooperation, and they have demonstrated to the Indian government that the United States is truly committed to India as a partner worthy of priority treatment.

"The Trump administration should commit to continuing and possibly expanding these programmes. It could create further momentum by making an early push for additional meetings of the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation," the CSIS experts said.

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