With India’s assumption of the G20 and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) presidencies, all roads are leading to New Delhi, more so, with the ongoing Raisina Dialogue, the Indian foreign ministry’s flagship event.
On the sidelines of the ongoing event in the national capital and far from the probing eyes of an intrusive media, a delegation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) met with an Indian team comprising both serving and retired officials, including those from the military, on Thursday, sources have told THE WEEK.
“It was an interesting meeting between the two entities in the sense that it is the first of its kind being held in India. The meeting was a closed-door session. The NATO delegation included a minister from Poland,” one of the sources closely familiar with the development said, adding that the meeting could be described as part of Track 1.5 diplomacy.
The interaction was facilitated by the Berlin-headquartered Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Foundation, which describes itself as working for the promotion of liberal democracy and a social market economy, of peace and freedom, transatlantic relations and European unification.
The sources said that the meeting explored a roadmap and avenues for India-NATO cooperation with the Indo-Pacific being the main area of focus. “One could sense a deep concern of the NATO delegation at the growing relationship between China and Russia. Other topics that were discussed included the Russia-Ukraine conflict.”
There is a sense that the US wants NATO to chart out its presence in the Indo-Pacific in order to counter China's growing military might and strategic depth.
Interestingly, on Thursday, US defense secretary Llyod Austin, in a message to the US military, called for prioritising China as a “Pacing Challenge”. He said: “An increasingly aggressive China is trying to shape the international rules-based system to suit its authoritarian preferences… We are strengthening our deterrence posture in the Indo-Pacific by developing new concepts and capabilities, deepening our alliances and partnerships, and expanding our activities and operations.”
On the other hand, NATO’s new Strategic Concept describes Russia as the “most significant and direct threat to Allied security” while China is named as a challenge to “interests, security and values”.