[audioplayer file =”http://airworldservice.org/commentary-reviews/29-08-19–COMMENTARY.mp3″]
Prime Minister Modi was invited by French President Emmanuel Macron as a ‘Special Guest’ to the G7 summit in Biarritz, France; as India finds common cause with France on a number of issues such as sustaining the Iran nuclear deal and the fight against climate change. It was on the side-lines of the Summit that the Indian Prime Minister and US President Trump met each other.
During the meeting, the two leaders discussed trade and economic issues. This is especially important as the US President has stated that New Delhi is taking advantage of the ‘developing nation’ tag given by WTO and India has imposed high tariffs on products from the US. To counter this perceived bias, the US has imposed tariffs on steel imports from India and ended preferential access for Indian products.
India too imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 products exported from the US in June 2019. The two leaders also spoke on the ways to broaden strategic ties. Though trade is an important part of the booming bilateral strategic partnership, differences over market access and tariffs has escalated in recent months, leading to fears of a protracted dispute. Nonetheless, after the meeting, Prime Minister Modi stated that India had plans to further increase its imports from the US as the two nations try to overcome their differences on tariffs and market access.
Energy was a sector that was identified for more cooperation. It was pointed that when Prime Minister Modi visits the US in September to attend the UN General Assembly, he would also travel to Houston, to address the Indian community there and to have meetings with business leaders in the energy sector. The objective is twofold, one to see how India can import more energy (oil) from the US and second is how the country can invest in the energy sector in the US. The Indian prime Minister would also be visiting Washington DC for a bilateral meeting with President Trump. It is expected that issues of mutual concern would be discussed by the two Strategic Partners.
The Biarritz meeting was the first meeting between both the leaders after Prime Minister Modi was re-elected to office for a second term. The meeting also took place after the revocation of the special status of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. The regional politics surrounding the issue has escalated to the international forumby Pakistan’s unfounded claims.However, India has made her it absolutely clear that the revocation of Article 370 of its Constitution was an internal matter at the informal closed door meet of the UN Security Council.
President Trump stated that Prime Minister Modi said that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is under control and it is fast returning to normalcy. The US President stated that, “If India and Pakistan speak, they can do it themselves as they have been doing it for a long time.” Reaffirming that Kashmir is a bilateral issue, the Indian Prime Minister categorically rejected the need for any third party mediation on Kashmir, saying India and Pakistan can discuss and resolve all issues bilaterally and “we don’t want to trouble any third country.” This has been India’s categoricalposition before the international community. The meeting between the two leaders is being seen as a positive step and one in which they are looking to expand the sectors of cooperation to bring focus on the bilateral ties.
The White House said the meeting between the Indian Prime Minister and US President would help in reducing tensions between India and Pakistan. This was one of the big takeaways from the just-concluded G7 Summit. A White House statement said, President Trump reaffirmed the need for dialogue and also to build on the great economic relations between India and the US.
Script: Dr. Stuti Banerjee, Strategic Analyst On American Affairs