US must signal readiness to do business with Modi: Expert

Written by Press Trust of India | Washington | Updated: Jun 4 2014, 18:22pm hrs
Indo USUS must signal readiness to do business with Modi: expert
Observing that the US was late in engaging with Narendra Modi, an eminent American scholar has asked the White House to signal that it is ready to do business with the new Indian Prime Minister and reinvigorate bilateral ties.

"(The US) President (Barack) Obama should signal his willingness to meet with Modi in Washington on the heels of the September 2014 United Nations General Assembly. This would help set the foundation for improved ties and mend fences over the revoked visa issue," Lisa Curtis of Heritage Foundation said.

A known India expert, Curtis said there is an opportunity to move past recent irritants in the USIndian relationship and reinvigorate the ties between the two countries.

"For this to happen, the Obama Administration must signal that it is ready to do business with newly elected Prime Minister Modi. If the US demonstrates its willingness to establish close ties with the new Indian government, it is likely that the BJP will reciprocate, and the two sides can refocus on achieving the vision of a durable and strategic partnership, which is in the national interest of both countries," Curtis said.

According to Curtis, the US should seek to work with the new BJP government to enhance India's role in demonstrating America's commitment to the AsiaPacific.

"Given the BJP's apparent interest in adopting a more assertive hedging strategy vis-a-vis China, the US will likely find more opportunities to engage with Indian officials on the US strategy in the AsiaPacific," she said.

"A BJP government will not be constrained or influenced by leftist-leaning politicians who have a knee-jerk aversion to strategic cooperation with the US, as was the Congress Partyled government. BJP leaders will continue to resist any policy construed as 'containment' of China, however," Curtis said.

"Modi's strong equation with Japanese Prime Minister Abe also could open opportunities for greater trilateral cooperation among the US, India and Japan. The sixth trilateral USIndiaJapan meeting, scheduled to take place in New Delhi in early June, presents an early opportunity for the new Indian government to demonstrate it prioritizes the dialogue," she added.

Calling to reinvigorate the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Indian National Security Advisor, Curtis urged the Obama Administration to make a fresh push to clear hurdles for US companies to invest in India's civil nuclear sector.

"The US should encourage India's economic and political involvement in Afghanistan, which helps bolster the Afghan governments efforts to fight terrorism," she said.

Conventional thinking holds that the US can mitigate regional tensions by adopting a neutral or "balanced" position toward the sources of IndoPakistani conflict and the tools each side employs to try to prevail in the conflict.

"But this approach has not served US interests when it comes to fighting terrorism. In fact, prioritising a policy of balance over principles in dealing with IndoPakistani tensions has contributed to the growth of international terrorist threats emanating from South Asia," she argued.

Curtis said the US has squandered valuable opportunities in the pastincluding in the aftermath of 9/11 and the 20012002 IndoPakistani military crisis, and after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacksto encourage change in the Pakistani militarys fundamental calculations on the use of terrorism to achieve foreign policy objectives.

Pakistan successfully argued that it was too weak to meet US counter-terrorism demands. This led US officials to soften their tone and accept continued ambiguous Pakistani relationships with known terrorist groups, Curtis said.

"The US will never fully get a handle on the international terrorist threat emanating from Pakistan if it allows Islamabad to continually link the activities of these groups to its dispute with India," she said adding that the US should no longer sacrifice its anti-terrorism principles in the region for the sake of pursuing an "even-handed" South Asia policy.