U.S. and India Are Having a Chat 💬

 Susan Walsh / AP Photo

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

A lot about guns and terror

This week, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will commence “2+2” talks with their Indian counterparts. The two nations will primarily discuss COMCASA (a pact that will provide India with military hardware from the US) and other arms deals. They will also discuss the growing threat of China and terrorism.
 

Let's be on the same side, yaar

Steps towards U.S.-Indian military cooperation came following the first meeting between India's PM Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump. However, the two nations have a fair amount of differences to discuss this week. The U.S. isn't happy about India’s ties with Russia and Iran. On the other hand, India isn't happy about Trump’s tariffs that have impacted Indian steel and aluminum exports.


OPTIMISTIC:

WSJ: U.S., India Look to Patch Up Rocky Relationship With Diplomacy, Defense Deals

Washington Post: With India meeting, Trump administration seeks to build ties, not damage them


Those who are optimistic about the upcoming talks (mostly U.S. outlets) commend the strengthening ties between the U.S. and India. Rather than viewing recent tensions as obstacles, they argue that the meeting demonstrates the pursuit of strong diplomacy between two of the world's largest democracies. Articles from this side are relieved that the Trump administration is taking symbolic steps towards maintaining India’s presence in Washington.

PESSIMISTIC:

The Express Tribune: Thorny trade, defense issues await US diplomats in India

NDTV: At US-India Mega Talks This Week, There Are 2 Huge Sticking Points


Those who are pessimistic about the discussions (mostly Indian outlets) have low expectations. They emphasize that the tangibility of India’s strengthening ties with Russia and Iran outweigh diplomatic symbolism with the U.S. They point to the twice-postponed talks with the U.S. as evidence that the two nations were inevitably impacted by rising tensions. Articles from this side believe it’s unrealistic that India will sever ties with Russia (a historic partner and ally) to align with U.S. interests.


Symbolism =/= tangible results

While the 2+2 talks may cement future dialogue between the U.S. and India, the two countries probably won’t see action right away. India’s recent pursuit of the Russian S-400 missile system amidst U.S. sanctions on military transactions with Russia may be evidence that India won’t concede. Ultimately, both sides will need to give and take; however, the U.S. has exacerbated once allied relations with its trade war, hindering diplomacy with India and other nations.

U.S.-India relations seem to be doing just fine

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