A day after the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Manila, the White House has affirmed that India-US relations are set to get stronger under the stewardship of President Trump.
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah, speaking to a group of Indian reporters on Monday, alluded to Trump’s “liking” for Modi, remarking that the Indian Prime Minister was among a few world leaders that President Trump “just likes and gets along with”.
“The US and India are going to have a strong relationship and it’s going to get stronger under this President,” said Shah, who is the highest-ranking Indian-American official in the White House and the first-ever member of the community to be assigned a key public communication responsibility in the President’s team.
Pointing to the strong fundamentals driving the US-India relationship, Shah said, “India is a natural ally of the United States, because of the shared commitment to democracy and to counter terrorism, and because the region is so vital to the US security.”
As recent developments suggest, the Trump administration’s earnestness about having a robust relationship with India also stems from Washington’s increasing push for a “free and open Indo- Pacific”, much to the chagrin of Beijing, which sees the emerging US India Japan Australia as a challenge to its own assertive moves in the region.
The Indo Pacific dimension was also highlighted in a White House read- out on the Trump Modi meeting, saying “the two leaders discussed the comprehensive strategic partnership between the United States and India and their shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region”.
The bilateral defence dimension was highlighted by the statement, noting that the two leaders “pledged to enhance their cooperation as Major Defence Partners, resolving that two of the world’s great democracies should also have the world’s greatest militaries”.
vice-President Mike Pence, mean while, administered the oath of office to Kenneth Juster, the newly appointed US Ambassador to India whose nomination was recently confirmed by the US Senate. “Congrats, Ken Juster, the new US Ambassador to India!” Pence said in a Twitter post, adding, “The ties between the United States and India run deep, and @POTUS & I are confident that with his leadership, integrity & experience, Ken will build an even stronger partnership that will benefit our nation & our people.”
Juster, who will be succeeding Richard verma at the Roosevelt House in New Delhi after a gap of more than 10 months, is expected to head to India shortly in preparation for the visit of President’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, who will be leading the US delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad this month end.
(Courtesy The Pioneer – With inputs from PTI).