The Trump administration supports India’s emergence as a leading global power and as a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region, a top US official said today. Speaking to PTI, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said the ties between the US and India had never been stronger or better. She was responding to questions on the status of India-US relationship amidst recent trade disputes between the two countries and New Delhi being caught in the crossfire of American sanctions against Russia and Iran. US President Donald Trump has signed a law, ‘The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act’, CAATSA, imposing sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. The Section 231 of the CAATSA mandates secondary sanctions on those who conduct significant transactions with the Russian defence and intelligence sectors.
“The US-India partnership is rooted in shared democratic values and a commitment to a rules-based order,” Nauert said. “We support India’s emergence as a leading global power and as a key partner in our efforts to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is a region of peace, stability, and growing prosperity,” she said. According to a second State Department spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis were looking forward to hosting their counterparts for the first ‘India-US 2+2 Dialogue’ this year in Washington. Dates of the dialogue are yet to be announced. It was initially scheduled for mid-April, but was postponed after Trump fired Rex Tillerson as the Secretary of State. The Indian delegation would be led by the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
“This engagement will support our efforts to increase diplomatic, security, and military cooperation with India to confront our most pressing global challenges, from Afghanistan and North Korea to the threat of terrorism,” the second State Department Spokesperson told PTI. “We are also focused on strengthening our economic ties, including increasing two-way trade, which has more than doubled over the last decade to roughly USD 115 billion in 2016,” the official said. The official said the Trump administration was trying to ensure that bilateral trade was “fair and reciprocal” and that U.S. companies have a level playing field in India.
“The strong people-to-people ties between the our countries and our common values are a tremendous source of strength for our partnership,” the spokesperson said, a day after BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav held series of talks with senior officials of the Trump Administration. Prominent among them were, Brian Hook, Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, Lisa Curtis, who heads the South Asia in the National Security Council of the White House and Alice Wells senior State Department official in its South and Central Asia Bureau. Later, Madhav had told a gathering of Indian-Americans here that the India-US relationship was scaling new heights as strategic partners under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.