Swift Blinken confirmation adds to impetus in India-US ties

Swift Blinken confirmation adds to impetus in India-US ties
Courtesy: Reuters

World’s oldest and largest democracies united in addressing common challenges and advancing global peace and security, says PM Modi.

The quick confirmation of Tony Blinken as the 71st US Secretary of State on Monday will add further impetus to bilateral ties with India and consolidate the multi-faceted relations between the world’s oldest and largest democracy.

Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has pledged to be a leading force in the Biden administration’s bid to revamp the US relationship with the rest of the world. Unfailingly calm and courteous, America’s new top diplomat advocates a more humble approach to build alliances and is the stepson of a Holocaust survivor and fluent French speaker who embodies diplomacy in both his image and ideals.

A new era for US-India ties

PM Modi congratulated Biden last week for being sworn in as the new US President, stating that the two countries are united and resilient in addressing common challenges and advancing global peace and security.
PM Modi congratulated Biden last week for being sworn in as the new US President, stating that the two countries are united and resilient in addressing common challenges and advancing global peace and security.Courtesy: Getty Images

Those ideals were on display shortly after Joe Biden’s victory last year, when Blinken said of US-India relations: “I think India has been very much a bipartisan success story over successive administrations. It started… toward the end of the Clinton administration, after the nuclear tests when relations were put back on a better footing. I think there are many ways in which we can deepen that cooperation to pursue the path that successive administrations have put us on.”

While strategic ties between New Delhi and Washington were on an unprecedented upswing during the Trump years, Blinken has sought to place it in the context of previous Democrat administrations as well. He recalled that as a senator, Biden had led the efforts in the foreign relations committee to push through the India-US civil nuclear deal under then President George W. Bush. “I think during the Obama administration, we deepened cooperation with India, particularly in the defence procurement area, also on information-sharing.”

The eager embrace of future possibilities is something that South Block has also focused on since the Biden administration was sworn in last week, with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs highlighting the strong foundations of India-US relations and the comprehensive global strategic partnership between the two countries.

Biden’s reign begins

"As the new administration takes shape, we will continue to remain engaged at all levels and further consolidate the vibrant and multi-faceted bilateral relations and work together on global challenges of common interest." - Anurag Srivastava; Indian MEA spokesperson

“On January 20th, after President Joe Biden assumed charge, PM Modi had sent him best wishes via Twitter. And as the new administration takes shape, we will continue to remain engaged at all levels and further consolidate the vibrant and multi-faceted bilateral relations and work together on global challenges of common interest,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said during a press briefing on the question of US-India ties in the Biden era. “As regard for the priorities, it would be to further strengthen our global strategic partnership,” he said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week congratulated Biden for being sworn in as the new US President and had said the two countries are united and resilient in addressing common challenges and advancing global peace and security. “My warmest congratulations to @JoeBiden on his assumption of office as President of the United States of America. I look forward to working with him to strengthen India-US strategic partnership,” he said. “My best wishes for a successful term in leading the USA as we stand united and resilient in addressing common challenges and advancing global peace and security,” PM Modi had said. The Prime Minister also highlighted how the India-US partnership is based on shared values and that his administration was determined to work with Biden to take it to greater heights, reaffirming his commitment to a strategic partnership between the two democracies.

During his call with Biden soon after the US election results were announced, Modi had similarly underscored their interest in working together to strengthen the India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership. “Both Biden and the Prime Minister affirmed their interest in working together to strengthen the India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership. They had also exchanged views on shared priorities and global challenges and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region,” Srivastava said.

While India and the US drew historically closer during Trump’s presidency as both countries aimed to counter China’s expanding military and economic influence in the region, the priorities of the new partnership remain clear against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic: containing the resurgence of the virus, promoting access to affordable vaccines, tackling climate change and reinforcing geopolitical stability, especially in the Indo-Pacific theatre.

With Biden’s key team swiftly assuming office and PM Modi extending the warmest of welcomes, those priorities are set to blossom into rapid action very soon.

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