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Mandira Nayar
Mandira Nayar


Indo-US relations will remain unchanged

Interview/ Lalit Mansingh, former Indian ambassador to the US


What does Donald Trump mean for India?

We don’t know much about Donald Trump’s thinking on India. There were references in his campaign speeches to countries like China and India ‘stealing’ American jobs. However, Trump had high praise for India and the Indian-American community when he addressed their rallies. Earlier, in July, the Republican Party had applauded India as “our geopolitical ally and strategic trading partner”.

My sense, therefore, is that while there may be a short interruption in the 50-odd high level dialogues, which are currently in progress, the fundamentals of Indo-US relations will remain unchanged. The bilateral ties will stay as robust as before under a Trump presidency.

There is a strong possibility that good chemistry will develop between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump when they meet, hopefully, soon. Both are right-wing leaders and share many traits. Former US speaker Newt Gingrich had predicted last July that Modi and Trump will be “a natural fit”.

Do you think Trump will be stronger on terrorism?

India has witnessed close cooperation from the US on counter-terrorism, especially after 9/11. However, there has been frustration in New Delhi with Washington’s reluctance to impose sanctions on Pakistan for its cross-border attacks against India and Afghanistan. It is expected that Trump will not hesitate to send a tough message to Pakistan.

Will Trump becoming president impact Barack Obama’s pivot to the east?

=While Obama has initiated a re-balance in Asia, he has shown hesitation in forcefully confronting China’s threats to its neighbours. It is possible that Trump, who has been critical of China’s aggressive economic policy, might also respond to its strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

How do you think it plays out with Russia, India and America?

India has been increasingly uncomfortable with the growing tensions between Moscow and Washington. Russia is a strategic partner of long standing and India is reluctant to see two of its closest partners in a state of mutual hostility. Trump’s declaration of friendship with Vladimir Putin augurs well and we can look forward to a dynamic and mutually beneficial trilateral relationship.

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