Academic journal article Indian Foreign Affairs Journal

India-US Strategic Partnership: Transformation Is Real

Academic journal article Indian Foreign Affairs Journal

India-US Strategic Partnership: Transformation Is Real

Article excerpt

To analyse the current trends of our strategic partnership with the USA and our expectations for the future, it would be useful to look into the origins of this partnership and how it has been projected in recent years in various joint statements at the leadership level. This will provide the yardsticks to assess the status of the partnership and its future.

It was during President Bush's visit to India in January 2004 that former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee issued the "Next Steps in Strategic Partnership with USA" (NSSP) statement that recalled that, in November 2001, he and Bush had committed "our countries to a strategic partnership". In actual fact, the joint statement issued then spoke only of a "long term partnership", even if its thrust was indeed "strategic". In his 2004 statement, Vajpayee announced an agreement with the USA to expand cooperation in three specific areas: civilian nuclear activities, civilian space programmes, and high technology trade, with, in addition, an agreement to expand the dialogue on missile defence. The statement ended by affirming that "the vision of the India-US strategic partnership that President Bush and I share is now becoming a reality". In July 2005, the US State Department announced the successful completion of the NSSP, and discussions moved to a higher political plane of forging a civil nuclear agreement which, on finalisation in October 2008, materially changed the India-US strategic equation.

Since then, the two countries have been affirming their strategic partnership, and defining its content in bolder terms in joint statements. In November 2009, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's US visit, the two countries announced a "global strategic partnership" centred, inter alia, around countering international terrorism. The USA underscored the "absolute imperative" of bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack, shared concern about the threat of terrorism "emanating from India's neighbourhood", and advocated resolute steps to eliminate safe havens and sanctuaries provided to terrorists. Other elements identified were: stability in Afghanistan, greater high technology trade, and genuine reform of the UN - including the Security Council - to reflect contemporary realities.

The joint statement issued in November 2010 during the US President Barack Obama's visit to India spoke of expanding and strengthening the India- US global strategic partnership, and called it indispensable. Obama's affirmation that "the United States looks forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member" was viewed as a major evolution in the US position. Reference was made to "a shared vision for peace, stability and prosperity in Asia, the Indian Ocean region and the Pacific region". In Afghanistan, the two sides resolved to pursue joint development projects. On terrorism, the two sides agreed that all terrorist networks, including Lashkar e-Taiba, must be defeated, and Pakistan was again called upon to bring to justice the perpetrators of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. The importance of maritime security, freedom of navigation, and the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes were affirmed. The USA expressed its intention to support India's full membership in the four multilateral export control regimes (Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Australia Group, and Wassenaar Arrangement) in a phased manner, adding that, in its view, India should qualify for membership in the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement according to existing requirements, once it imposed export controls over all items on these regimes' control lists. On civilian nuclear cooperation, it was noted India intended ratifying the Convention on Supplementary Compensation within the coming year, and would ensure a level playing field for US companies.

During Manmohan Singh's Washington visit in September 2013, Obama and Manmohan Singh noted with pride the transformation of US-India relations during the last decade, and affirmed that their partnership was stronger than at any point in their 67-year history. …

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