Lucknow: A great weight of expectations was piled on the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington for his meeting with President Donald Trump. As this was the first meeting between Modi and Trump, in the latter’s capacity as President of the United States. The joint statement that lists the shared goals and values of both the dignitaries said, “The two leaders support bolstering regional economic connectivity through the transparent development of infrastructure… while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity,…and call on other nations in the region to adhere to these principles.” The joint statement between Modi-Trump was titled Prosperity through Partnership.
So what were the contents of the joint statement?
Much as expected, Terrorism featured in the joint statement, mentioning Laskhar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and the D-Company. Information-exchange and an expansion of intelligence-sharing and operational-level counter terrorism cooperation have been called for. Support has been ensured for the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism proposed by India. Acceptance gained towards a new consultation mechanism on domestic and international terrorist designations listing proposals. Also, pledging to work together to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
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The leaders also called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries. They further called on Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups.
The two governments also broadly agreed that they faced a common Chinese challenge on the maritime front. India objected to China’s “New Silk Road” project, because an economic corridor which is a part of the project runs through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. The government says that the construction plans violate ‘India’s territorial sovereignty’, which the US has accepted.
The biggest surprise found itself on Trump’s own remarks to the press as well as the joint statement against the North Korean regime. The joint statement read, “The leaders strongly condemned continued provocations by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), emphasising that its destabilising pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programs poses a grave threat to regional security and global peace.”
The statement spoke of how “the United States and India — leading engines of growth in the global economy — should intensify their economic cooperation to make their nations stronger and their citizens more prosperous.” Where one set of leaders aims at seeking solutions for the world at large with an ambitious mission statement, the other appears to have set its sights on the ‘vikaas’ (Progress) of their respective nations above all else. Neither approach is right or wrong. They are just different.
The main Indian accomplishment from the visit was to reassure itself that the India-US strategic partnership developed over the past two decades will survive the most unpredictable White House resident. For the most part, that has been accomplished. Yet, India should not expect that everything to be a smooth sail after this. On security, whether the United States will remain the active superpower providing security across the Asia Pacific is less clear today than it was six months ago. It remains to be seen how much stomach US has for a renewed military commitment to Afghanistan. And on climate, Trump has announced that the United States will exit the Paris Climate Agreement. So India will have to go its own way on climate change.
To sum it up, even as the world’s oldest democracy steps back from the global stage, the world’s largest democracy is stepping up.