With the threat of an economically and militarily assertive China looming before the US and India, US President Donald Trump chose India’s Independence Day to signal that Washington has New Delhi’s back by announcing the two countries ”will elevate their strategic consultations.”
The White House readout said that the two countries have a long overdue annual strategic dialogue mechanism instituted by previous administrations that typically involve high cabinet officials from both sides, including the secretary of state and commerce secretary from the US and their Indian counterparts. Although the White House statement did not refer explicitly to China, much less the Doklam issue, the reference to enhancing peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region appears to be shot across Beijing’s bow and constitutes a continuation of the recognition by the Obama administration of India’s stakes in the region.
This statement came after Trump reviewed the Chinese trade practices.
The US President called Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid domestic political turmoil in both countries ostensibly to congratulate Indians on the country’s Independence Day celebration. Trump also sought to ramp up business ties with India specifically talking up the Global Entrepreneur Summit in Hyderabad, India, this coming November for which he has detailed his daughter Ivanka Trump to attend.
Modi thanking Trump for his ”strong leadership uniting the world against the North Korean menace.
The US energy supply commitment to India is essentially aimed at weaning New Delhi away from the Gulf/Arab countries that have long been India’s primary suppliers. But China is also a buyer of American crude oil that has been liberated to export following the fracking boom that had made U.S an energy exporter.
In a separate message on the occasion of India’s Independence Day, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson said the United States is ”proud to stand with the people of India, the world’s largest democracy, in the cause of freedom and prosperity around the globe. Prime Minister Modi’s ambitious vision for the US-India relationship holds great promise for advancing our shared interests in the 21st century, and we look forward to the many years of friendship before us.”