News / Asia

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

FILE - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi
FILE - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Anjana Pasricha

India and the United States will attempt to reset their ties during the upcoming visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Thursday's talks will be the first high-level interaction between the two countries since a right-wing government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge in late May.

For months, India-U.S. ties have grabbed headlines for the wrong reasons:  Washington’s denial of a visa to the Hindu nationalist leader who is now India’s prime minister, and an ugly spat over an Indian diplomat’s arrest in New York last December.

 But the mood is more positive as the Bharatiya Janata Party government prepares to host Kerry for the fifth India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue, which will begin later this week.
The issue of the visa denial was set to rest after Modi’s election, when the U.S. government reached out to him and invited him to visit Washington in September.
Chintamani Mahapatra, a professor at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, recalled that a previous BJP government laid the foundation for a closer India-U.S. relationship 15 years ago. He expects Modi, who is widely regarded as a pragmatic leader, to do the same.
“Again the BJP is in power, they have history behind it, so they will improve relationship with the U.S.A with the sole aim of bettering India’s economic and defense capabilities and political credibility," Mahapatra said.
Indian leaders are expected to pitch for more U.S. investment and trade as they look to restore the economy to a high-growth path.  
However, Manoj Joshi at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi pointed out that persisting disputes between the two countries over issues such as trade, protectionism and patents pose as roadblocks.
“Indian expectations are basically on the development front, because the focus of the Modi government is really on the issue of economic development," Joshi said. He noted the U.S. and India "have a certain number of problems" regarding the World Trade Organization and issues of intellectual property rights. "Certainly the Indian side would be expecting that the U.S. can be more helpful in those areas.”
Mahapatra remains optimistic, saying such differences exist between the best of partners.
“These are going to be part of the process. they are not going to hurt, they are not going to break the relationship, but rather they will be part of the challenges that the two countries need to sort out through dialogue of the kind that John Kerry is going to hold," he said.

 In India, concerns also are running high that the withdrawal of international combat troops from Afghanistan could lead to a spike in terrorist violence in the region.
Joshi said this is a potential problem for a government stressing the need for security in South Asia. 
“India has certain regional aspirations, certain regional policy, which the Modi government has been very active on," he noted. " I think certainly when it comes to countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, the government of India would appreciate a U.S. policy which could promote stability in the region.”

The venue for the India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue was shifted from Washington to New Delhi to give American officials an opportunity to meet top leaders of the BJP government.
Most observers expect that the dialogue will give some momentum to the relationship, but they don't expect any quick progress.

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Comment Sorting
by: Chang Huang
July 30, 2014 3:04 AM
India and the US are really quite natural allies. They have very similar outlooks on what kind of world they would want. If they are bright enough they will make this work. I'm just not sure if John Kerry will ask for a "cease fire," even though it has no pertinence here.

by: Raj from: usa
July 29, 2014 6:21 PM
"Washington’s denial of a visa to the Hindu nationalist leader" - Please stop referring to Modi as a "Hindu nationalist leader". He is the democratically elected "Prime Minister of India", and there is no need to identify his religion. I don't find anyone identifying Pres. Obama, as "Christian President of USA".
In Response

by: Arvy from: USA
July 29, 2014 9:36 PM
Are you suggesting to rephrase the sentence as "Washington's denial of a visa to the Prime Minister of India"?

Probably "BJP leader" or "Gujarat Chief Minister" is politically correct.

by: Raj S
July 29, 2014 3:33 PM
Far too much is beig expected here. The nations will continue to do business as usual. But expecting any sort of rapport is naive. The US state department is a place where Obama's political rivals are put to pasture. It is run by a lame duck who cannot control the department effectively, or deliberately obstructs the president's actions.

Modi is unlikely to care for domestic US compulsions, and will instead maintain a hard line on the basis of the poor handling of recent diplomatic issues.

by: CSM from: USA
July 29, 2014 12:20 PM
This a turning point in the relationship of the two largest democracies. As an Indian, I wish to remind the Indian leaders, It is more in the interest of India that a close relationship in trade and security with USA is formalized without further ado. The last six decades were lost or marginalized due to misplaced emphasis on socialism and neutrality. Indians were brutalized by terrorists from Pakistan, three wars and perpetual fear of China. Clearly their foreign policy of neutrality and socialist bent had negative payoff. Time to change.
In Response

by: Arvy from: USA
July 29, 2014 9:24 PM
Your wish has come true. Indian leaders have read your comment and are thankful for your keen observation!

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