U.S. likely to unveil South Asia policy soon

U.S. Charge D’Affaires to India says ties between the two countries are getting stronger

Published - July 15, 2017 09:54 pm IST - Chennai

MaryKay Carlson

MaryKay Carlson

The Trump administration is likely to unveil its South Asia policy in the coming weeks, said MaryKay L. Carlson, U.S. Charge D’Affaires to India.

In an interview to The Hindu on Saturday, Ms. Carlson said the South Asia policy was currently under review by the U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. The review is likely to include the United States’ position on its relations with India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, though Ms. Carlson refused to elaborate.

“The Trump administration is looking at a South Asia strategy — not a U.S.-Pak strategy, U.S.-India strategy,” she said, adding that bilateral relations are an important part of the overall strategy. “We will definitely take a holistic view,” Ms. Carlson said.

She said under the Trump administration, the U.S.-India ties had ‘catapulted’ to a faster growth trajectory and was positive. “There’s a lot of optimism under the Trump administration with regard to the U.S.-India relations. The ties are getting stronger,” she said.

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill worth about $ 621.5 billion that will enable increased cooperation with India in the defence sector. The House adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorisation Act 2018, which now needs to get the U.S. President’s assent. The bill was passed with a majority of 344-81.

Ms. Carlson said this was indicative of “bipartisan support [for India] across our government and every aspect whether it is the legislative branch, the executive branch, and among the American people with India”.

‘Aimed at the world’

Ms. Carlson, who went aboard the U.S aircraft carrier USS Nimitz on Saturday to get a feel of the ongoing Malabar 2017 exercise involving India, the U.S. and Japan, said the Malabar exercise was “aimed at the whole world and not just any specific country”. “Clearly it sends a message, but to the world not any one country. It shows the significance of our partnerships, our trilateral cooperation between our three Navies, but also the importance that we place on strategic partnerships on rule of law, and freedom of navigation and there is a natural synergy between the three countries that have democratic governments, and strong maritime tradition,” she said. “It is not aimed at any single country,” Ms. Carlson said.

To a query on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Israel, Ms. Carlson said the visit “exceeded expectations, certainly on the U.S. side.”

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