President Donald Trump directed his administration to have a strategy on South Asia and the Indo-Pacific region that takes “full advantage” of the US’ “very close” ties with India after his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a senior American official has said. The official said the Trump Administration sees a tremendous potential in the bilateral relationship. Modi and Trump met for the first time at the White House on June 26. It is said that the meeting between the two leaders was highly successful. “With the president building on the momentum of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the United States really directed us to ensure that that we had a strategy for Asia and the Indo- Pacific that took full advantage of the tremendous potential of the largest democracy in the world and our very close relationship with India,” a senior Administration official told PTI. Following Trump’s direction to his national security leadership, top US officials had “looked at the areas where our interests are aligned with India”, the official, who wished anonymity, said, adding that there is a “complete confluence of interests”. “In every area from diplomatic cooperation, to military cooperation, to economic growth and development, to coping with it with discrete problem sets… We said that we really want to enhance our cooperation with India and to develop a really a true partnership that advances both our interests,” the official said.
The official said both the South Asia Policy and Indo- Pacific policy took shape in the weeks after the Modi-Trump meeting in the Oval Office. Modi was the first foreign leader who had a dinner hosted by Trump in the White House. Since then, top leaders of the two countries have remained in constant contact with several high-profile meetings and visits following.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had his first meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in September in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. A day later, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis flew to India to meet Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Early this month, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had successful meetings with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Tillerson will visit India next week and delivered a major India-policy speech on Wednesday.
It is also very well possible that Mattis and Sitharaman will meet again soon with the officials working on another meeting between Trump and Modi on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit to be held in the Philippines next month.