Putting Indo-US Relations on a Fast Track, Jaishankar’s US Visit High on Substance

Putting Indo-US Relations On A Fast Track, Jaishankar’s US Visit High On Substance

Washington DC: In a visit packed with a heavy substantive agenda from cementing ties with the US to an assurance to resolve the visa wrinkles, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar left Washington DC with what can be described as a ‘touchdown’ in American football parlance a visit which was high on substance.

In what has been his former home turf as a diplomat as India’s Ambassador to Washington he surely found some time to think on how to revitalise this partnership.

On each of his mornings in DC, as he looked out of the window from the Presidential Thomas Jefferson suite on the 6th floor of the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, it was a new strand of cooperation and ideas to expand the relationship which were visible during his four-day visit.

He understood the nuances of face-to-face meetings and from State Department to Pentagon and to the national security establishment here it was clear that India and the US should continue on the path of convergence like never before on bilateral and global issues for the greater global good and to strengthen the confluence of democracies.

EAM Jaishankar and Indian Envoy Taranjit Singh Sandhu in Washington

Interacting with a group of Washington DC-based journalists, Jaishankar spoke on a host of issues flanked by the Indian envoy in Washington Taranjit Singh Sandhu, who had cooked up a wholesome menu for Jaishankar, from the top brass of the US administration to Senators and Congressmen, senior administration officials, think tanks and science and technology czars and a meeting with the Indian diaspora during his trip to the US capital.

The visit was also about finding solutions to issues that impact people, with a huge visa backlog for Indians in US missions in India. Speaking to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Jaishankar even suggested that the Indian government can help the US government find a solution.

“I feel this is an issue where obviously it’s mainly for the US, but we will be supportive and collaborative,” Jaishankar said responding to a question about people facing visa issues.

He said Blinken assured that US is “building back” on the backlog of visa applications from Indian nationals, and the Biden administration has a plan that will play out in the coming months.

EAM S Jaishankar with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Jaishankar flagged concerns and challenges that Indians have been facing in receiving visas to work and live in the US.

Speaking about India-US relations, the minister said that the relationship between the two countries today impacts the rest of the world as there are many countries which look to the association individually and bilaterally and hope for solutions which the world is searching for in many aspects.

“I think our relationship today impacts the rest of the world. There are a lot of countries which look to us individually and bilaterally for some part of the betterment which they hope for solutions, which the world is searching for in many respects,” Jaishankar said during the press briefing.

Referring to the bilateral consultations between the two countries as solid, positive and productive, Jaishankar underscored that the visit was very comfortable and he had some very good conversations with the ministers in US.

EAM Jaishankar meeting with senior members of the US Congress

He further added that the bilateral conversations were framed under the pretext of larger global challenges, and there was a very high degree of convergence as the priorities of India and the US, at times, have been different.

He was also candid in admitting that like mature friends there will be differences.

“That’s the sort of broad sense that I want to give you of a very solid, positive, productive bilateral conversation but framed in the context of larger global challenges where there was a very high degree of convergence on how we look at those challenges, we may articulate it a bit differently and our priorities at some times will be different,” Jaishankar said.

EAM S Jaishankar With US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

Describing the Washington visit as a comfortable one, Jaishankar underscored that both the nations understand how to make space for each other and work despite not entirely agreeing on every aspect of every issue.

When asked by NewsMobile about the issue of a belligerent China posing a threat to democracies like the US and India and how should they handle China and further cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, he said: “We all have vital stakes today that the larger Indo-Pacific region is secure, I believe it is shared objective between India and the US to see the betterment of the region.” It was apparent, the Minister, who has also served as India’s envoy to China, wasn’t willing to cross the line of diplomatese on China, despite Beijing’s repeated provocation and acts of belligerence with India and the countries of the Indo-Pacific.

S Jaishankar with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan

The discussions in Washington also focussed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Biden administration did praise India’s advice to Russia that now is not the time of war, a message sent by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

EAM S Jaishankar with Vijay Chauthaiwale, Foreign Affairs In-charge of BJP

The two sides also agreed to expand cooperation on economic issues and trade and explore further ideas to expand science and technology cooperation, especially in newer technologies. During an interaction with the business chambers, Jaishankar was also told of a renewed interest in India’s start-up revolution and India’s new liberal policies, including those on drones.

EAM S Jaishankar at the USIBC executive roundtable with Atul Keshap, Nisha Biswal and Taranjit Singh Sandhu

The foundation for a robust Indo-US relationship that has been laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who believes it to be a natural ally of India, Jaishankar just added to the momentum which has been kept alive by India’s diplomatic team in Washington, led by  Indian Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu. He has crisscrossed the aisle with his proactive outreach across the administration, Congress, think tanks, the business community and the diaspora.

EAM S Jaishankar with Mukesh Aghi, President & CEO of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum

In the next few months, New Delhi must ensure to build on this and keep a diplomatic continuity and pave way for a US Presidential visit in 2023. This is a treasured relationship, which needs to be nurtured by hands who know the lay of the land well.

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