The United States and India are also strengthening their partnership in light of the elections

The United States and India are also strengthening their partnership in light of the elections

The 2+2 dialogue between the United States and India this year arrives at a stage of excellent health in relations, which has overcome the shocks of international geopolitical crises, and which will be strengthened in light of the electoral seasons in both countries (as competing actors could work to push narratives designed to dismantle relations).

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken And those for defence Lloyd Austin They will meet their Indian counterparts during these two days in New Delhi during the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, an annual exchange that allows India and the United States to evaluate their relations and discuss future priorities. The two countries are witnessing a phase of tremendous cooperation that intersects with common interests and specific priorities, as India considers the United States its main international partner, and Americans see the Indian subcontinent as a critical point of balance in global relations.

Cooperation to confront China – through military and non-military means – is a focal point of the meetings, although this is not explicitly mentioned. First and foremost on the table for discussion are plans to enhance India’s technological capacity in order to reduce global dependence on semiconductors of Chinese origin. Then the continued progress on strengthening India’s armed forces, which is a hot topic because it means allowing India to continue the complex separation from military relations with Russia – as well as providing the country with deterrence capabilities in the face of the rise of China. Trade, energy transition, university exchanges and bilateral cooperation in general are among various other topics.

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What is most important for both countries is that the cooperation is multifaceted, and is not limited to considerations related to China, but rather a long-term comprehensive strategic partnership. This year’s 2+2 dialogue comes with relations that have appeared stable and undiminished in the wake of recent global shocks to the partnership – for example, the war in Ukraine, the Middle East crisis, and diplomatic tensions between India and Canada. There were distances and differences, but Washington and New Delhi chose to respect them. And the state visit of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi In Washington, this moment was a symbolic sign.

India is interested in playing an independent and recognized role in international dynamics. The position based on the Middle East crisis is a typical position. New Delhi has historically balanced its relations with the Israelis and Palestinians. But after the horrific attack by Hamas on October 7, he expressed his solidarity with Israel, while reiterating his support for the two-state solution. For India, the war against Hamas must be read through the lens of counter-terrorism and national security, an aspect on which it has also cooperated with Israel for some time and which it feels more strongly in recent weeks due to Pakistani decisions to expel thousands from India. Of Afghan citizens.

The conflict in the Middle East has put some new joint initiatives on hold, such as the planned IMEC Transport Corridor and cooperation between the I2U2 group (comprising India, Israel, the UAE and the US). But the strategic will is to keep these projects in place and implement these projects as soon as the context allows.

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Meanwhile, after Canada, an important US ally, accused India of involvement in a state-sponsored killing on its soil in September – which followed sparking a diplomatic crisis between New Delhi and Ottawa – Washington continues to maintain its disciplined line. American officials encourage Indians and Canadians to acknowledge this, and insist on the mutual strategic need to maintain moderate public engagement.

Even on the sensitive front of Russia’s war in Ukraine, as India continues to buy oil from Moscow and does not take a strong stance against Moscow, the United States appears to be giving New Delhi its space. Slowly, India’s imports of Russian oil may decline (as October data suggests) as well due to the increase in prices – which the Russians have so far discounted to mitigate the effects of Western isolation. The oil deal also includes $20 billion in rupees stuck in Russian accounts in Indian banks, and Moscow is frustrated that it is unable to free them.

There are still issues to be resolved between India and the United States, ranging from disagreements over export controls that complicate technology transfers to deeper distances. These concerns include Washington’s concerns about New Delhi’s shrinking democratic environment, India’s refusal to fully join the Washington-led alliance system, and conflicting notions of global order. India emphasizes more multilateralism, with the aim of becoming one of the poles of a new multipolar world in the future. It is clearly a strategic vision that risks weakening US power – perhaps by strengthening Chinese-dominated entities (such as BRICS or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization), of which India is a part.

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Even in this case, although there are clearly identifiable distances, the desire to keep the partnership active seems to prevail. Even while recognizing that at this moment both countries find themselves facing a sensitive electoral phase, which as before will be the subject of outside interest and at risk of toxic infiltration by rivals (e.g. China) interested in spreading narratives. Which could change public opinion choices — changes that could also include building effective measures to deconstruct US-India relations.

It is possible that there will be a further strengthening of the partnership in a few months, when the US President does so Joe Biden He could participate as chief guest in the Republic Day parade on January 26, perhaps coinciding with a leaders’ summit of the Quad (the four-party system with Japan and Australia around which part of the US position in the Indo-Pacific revolves), and which Washington has been working on for some time. . Biden could also accept New Delhi’s call to further strengthen ties ahead of the election seasons in Washington and New Delhi.

(Photo: Twitter – Rajnath Singh – @rajnathsingh रक्षा मंत्री, Indian Defense Minister)

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