‘U.S. to strengthen relationship with India’

Lisa Curtis  

China’s recent actions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) have caused the U.S. to develop its partnership with India to counter Chinese aggression, a top Trump administration National Security Council (NSC) official said.

China’s recent actions on the LAC have “further reinforced the importance of the U.S.-India strategic partnership and it has strengthened the U.S. resolve to work towards building that relationship as a bulwark against Chinese aggression,” NSC Director for South and Central Lisa Curtis said. The U.S. had provided India with “strong and unambiguous support” throughout the crisis and the two countries’ cooperation had “certainly” grown closer, according to Ms. Curtis. Her comments were made during a webinar organised by the Carnegie Endowment, a think tank.

Policy differences

Ms. Curtis said India and the U.S. should focus on the issues where there are converging interests, and operationalise their cooperation around those specific issues, and accept that there will be policy differences between them on other issues.

Responding to a question on burden sharing in the Indo-Pacific and whether India would be comfortable making contributions to aid U.S. objectives, Ms. Curtis said, “When it comes to the South Asia region, we have seen India reluctant, I think, for the U.S. to become more involved, but I think you will see that changing because of the situation that we are finding ourselves in.”

She referred to China becoming more involved in the political dynamics of South Asian countries.

Last week, India had welcomed the decision of the Maldives to sign a military agreement with the U.S.

Ms. Curtis said countries would have to become more comfortable with cooperating and burden sharing towards similar goals.

“We are starting to see more openness from India in particular in discussing these issues,” she said. India had started helping countries — such as the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — with their economic issues, as per the White House adviser.

Ms. Curtis said cooperation and burden sharing was becoming inevitable not only in the military and maritime areas but also in terms of the economies, countering the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and so forth.