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18 Jan, 2024 17:47

India an ‘extraordinary success story’ – Blinken

Washington has been “very deliberate” in strengthening its ties with New Delhi, the American diplomat has said
India an ‘extraordinary success story’ – Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has hailed India’s development as an “extraordinary success story,” and praised the “very deliberate” efforts of President Joe Biden to strengthen ties with Narendra Modi’s government. These efforts are widely seen as an effort to separate New Delhi from Moscow and Beijing.

In India “we see an extraordinary success story, and we see the remarkable achievements that Prime Minister Modi has achieved to move forward under his watch that have materially benefited and materially positively affected so many Indian lives,” Blinken told reporters at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos on Wednesday. 

“We also see a relationship between our countries that is at a new level,” he continued, attributing this to “the very deliberate effort of both the prime minister and President Biden, who believes in this deeply.”

Since the conflict in Ukraine began in 2022, the Biden administration has launched a concerted charm offensive on India, a founding member of the Cold War-era Non-Aligned Movement that refused to join the West in condemning or sanctioning Russia over its military operation and continues to purchase Russian oil and gas. 

After initially warning New Delhi of “consequences” for violating its anti-Russian sanctions, the Biden administration switched tack. The Pentagon offered India the opportunity to swap its military’s predominantly Russian weapons systems for American ones in mid-2022, and Biden hosted Modi for a lavish state visit last June.

The visit was described in the American press as an attempt to bring India on side ahead of a potential military confrontation with China. Along with Russia, Brazil, and South Africa, India and China are both original members of the BRICS group, although their relationship is strained over numerous geopolitical disputes

The visit ended in a joint statement in which both leaders pledged their “enduring commitment to a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous India-Pacific region” and their opposition to “destabilizing or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo by force.” While the statement did not mention China by name, this language mirrors that used by the US to defend its military presence in the South China Sea, which Beijing considers provocative.

US-India relations have also been strained by the alleged assassination of a Sikh separatist leader by a Hindu nationalist on US soil. The US Department of Justice indicted an Indian national for the killing, but White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said last month that the incident would not affect Washington’s “strategic partnership with India.”