A comprehensive roadmap for giving shape to the Indo-US strategic partnership has been the most important outcome of the very successful visit of President Barack Obama to India from November 6 to 8,2010. The details of this roadmap are to be found in the joint statement issued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Obama on the conclusion of his visit.
The joint statement and the President’s well-drafted address to a joint session of the Parliament on November 8 sought to remove Indian misgivings that he had diluted the importance given by his predecessor George Bush to the Indo-US Strategic Partnership.The partnership as projected by the Bush Administration was vague in concepts and weak in details. Manmohan Singh and Obama have sought to strengthen the conceptual framework of the partnership and lay down a comprehensive architecture for the partnership.
The framework and architecture envisaged by them will have regional, global and bilateral dimensions. The regional dimensions will be :
“¦India-US strategic partnership is indispensable not only for their two countries but also for global stability and prosperity in the 21st century”¦ President Obama welcomed Indias emergence as a major regional and global power and affirmed his countrys interest in Indias rise, its economic prosperity, and its security.
- Deepening existing regular strategic consultations on developments in East Asia, and expanding and intensifying their strategic consultations to cover regional and global issues of mutual interest, including Central and West Asia.
- Intensifying consultation, cooperation and coordination to promote a stable, democratic, prosperous, and independent Afghanistan and pursuing joint development projects with the Afghan Government in capacity building, agriculture and women’s empowerment. These joint projects will suplplement the individual projects of the two countries.
- In an indirect reference to regional concerns over the Chinese assertiveness in the South and East China Seas and the perceived lack of transparency in Chinese policies, the statement said: “In an increasingly inter-dependent world, the stability of, and access to, the air, sea, space, and cyberspace domains is vital for the security and economic prosperity of nations. Acknowledging their commitment to openness and responsible international conduct, and on the basis of their shared values, India and the United States have launched a dialogue to explore ways to work together, as well as with other countries, to develop a shared vision for these critical domains to promote peace, security and development. The leaders reaffirmed the importance of maritime security, unimpeded commerce, and freedom of navigation, in accordance with relevant universally agreed principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and peaceful settlement of maritime disputes. “
Thus, the partnership will seek to promote peace and security across Asia in general and in East and Central Asia in particular, strengthen maritime security and work for a peaceful settlement of maritime disputes. Though China has not been named, Beijing will have reasons to be concerned over the implications of this formulation.