Postponing ‘2+2 dialogue’: Have India’s blooming ties with US hit a wall?
At a time when the US and India are witnessing irritants in their relationships over trade tariffs and India's positive ties with countries like Iran and Russia, Washington conveyed to New Delhi its decision to postpone the maiden '2+2 dialogue' between the two countries which was scheduled in Washington on July 6 because of "unavoidable reasons".
On Wednesday, June 27, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj was dialled up by her American counterpart Mike Pompeo to convey the decision, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet, adding that Pompeo regretted and expressed disappointment over the same.
Pompeo, however, did not divulge the exact reason for postponing the talks and reportedly sought Swaraj's understanding and they agreed to decide on a new date to hold the talks.
Swaraj, along with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, was set to travel to the US to meet Pompeo and US Defence Secretary James Mattis for the '2+2 dialogue'.
This is the second time that the proposed '2+2 dialogue' between the two democracies who consider their strategic, security and defence convergence key for global challenges have been postponed. The dialogue format was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US in June 2017 - his first to that country after Donald Trump assumed presidency - and holding successful talks with the latter.
The meeting was originally scheduled to take place on April 18-19 but Washington had postponed it then as well over the change of leadership in the US State Department from Rex Tillerson, who was fired by President Trump, to Pompeo.
Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh and his US counterpart John Sullivan spoke over the agenda for the 2+2 ministerial dialogue in Buenos Aires in May -- on the sidelines of the G20 Ministerial Meeting.
However, issues like India's "high" trade tariffs on US imports and New Delhi's economic and military ties with Iran and Moscow, respectively, have created a gap with the Trump administration and the postponing of the '2+2 dialogue' could have happened because of that.
These incidents show a sudden slowing down of the momentum between the two countries which was found by the leaderships of both the nations in the post-9/11 days.
After former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao had focussed on improving ties with the US during the presidency of Bill Clinton, his successors like Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh saw the relations with presidents like George W Bush and Barack Obama blooming in several aspects. Modi also took a special care of New Delhi's ties with Washington as he made a number of trips to that country - both to engage with the political elite and the common man.
In 2015, he also invited Obama as the chief guest to India's Republic Day celebrations - the first time ever that an American president got such an invitation - and it was considered to be a game-changer in the bilateral relations between the two democracies as well the for the global power politics.
But that excitement seems to have taken a backseat under the Trump presidency as the US has turned stricter in safeguarding its own interests and is in no mood to spare even its age-old allies. For countries like Pakistan and China, this would be a welcome development but for the policy-makers in South Block, the road ahead is bumpy.