India and the US are having great difficulty in managing things when it comes to China. A senior US official, who called China the “elephant in the room” during bilateral talks said that India and the United States have been “too cautious” when it comes to China’s strategic ties.
Speaking at a think-tank event during his visit to Delhi, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said Washington respects India’s tradition of “Strategic Autonomy”, and did not seek to pull it into a security alliance, but hoped to build a partnership in the region through the Quad (Australia-Indian-Japan-US Quadrilateral dialogue), which he dubbed “Pax Indo-Pacifica”.
Mr. Biegun said at an “India-US Forum” event in Delhi, where he shared a session with foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla, “We have seen the conditions emerge for an organic and deeper partnership between Indian and the US not an alliance on the post-war model, but a fundamental alignment along with shared interests, and shared values.”
Mr. Biegun arrived in Delhi for a two-day visit to prepare; for the upcoming “2 + 2” talks between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and Us Defence Secretary with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar; and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
It was said by Mr. Biegun that the talks will be held “later this year”; although sources indicated that the 2 + 2 is scheduled for October 26-27.
The arrival of senior US officials including Mr. Biegun less than a month before the US presidential elections is unusual; especially given curtailed travel during the corona virus pandemic; and the fact that Mr. Jaishankar and Mr. Pompeo just met for the Quad ministerial dialogue in Tokyo last week. However, the sources suggest that an exemption for the US is indicative of the close personal ties; shared between the Trump administration and the Modi government.
The ongoing standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the LAC is also likely to be a factor of strengthening bilateral arrangements and well coordination in the Indo-Pacific region at this time.
Mr. Biegun said, “I could not agree more with Ambassador Kantha. We have been too cautious. Last week’s important and successful Quad ministerial leaves; the United States confident that perhaps; just maybe, we can say that we are present at the creation o those strategic linkages.”
He further added, “I should be clear that the security partnership the United States; and our partners explore today does not necessarily need to follow; the model of the last century of mutual defence treaties with a heavy in-country US troop presence.”