Even as the Trump administration is cosying up to the Chinese, the US will need India to counter Beijing’s growing influence in the world, a top American think-tank has said. Describing India as a “key piece in the jigsaw” for the US, the Atlantic Council urged the Trump administration to prioritise its ties with New Delhi. “Given the advancements that China has made both economically and militarily, the US will need to channel considerable resources to assert its global and regional primacy,” Atlantic Council, a top American think-tank said in a policy paper ‘Transforming India from a Balancing to Leading Power’ released ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit here.
“To accomplish this, India remains a key piece in the jigsaw for the US. President (Donald) Trump will need to assure India that it is not merely a regional prop to balance Beijing’s power in the region, but a top priority for US foreign policy under the Trump administration,” said the policy paper authored jointly by the former Union Minister Manish Tewari and Bharat Gopalaswamy, director of the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council. “While Trump has favoured rapprochement with Beijing so far, there will need to be more initiative and effort from Washington to ensure that India-US relations continue to strengthen. The Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative proposed by Senator John McCain could be one effective way to signal the United States’ intent towards India,” it said.
The proposed $7.5 billion funding, if approved, could be a starting point for further India-US engagement in the years to come, they wrote. Noting that during his campaign, Trump indicated that strengthening US-India ties would be a top priority for his administration, the two authors said Trump went on to woo India by openly vilifying China on a host of issues not limited to the South China Sea. “However, since he was sworn into office, Trump has displayed an unprecedented degree of warmth in his attitude towards China, leaving Indian observers puzzled,” it said.
“In his first few months in office, President Trump has demonstrated that Asia continues to be a major focus of US foreign policy,” the policy paper said. “His administration has addressed a multitude of issues related to China and the Korean Peninsula in a short time frame, reiterating US interests in the region. That being said, a more pressing concern is whether President Trump will work to enhance the stature of the Indo-American relationship in the same vein as his predecessors,” Tewari and Gopalaswamy said.