US Diplomats Aim to Reinvigorate India-US Ties
Amidst geopolitical changes, the U.S. officials' visit to India underscores the enduring bilateral strength, aiming for enhanced cooperation and reaffirming commitment to a strategic partnership for global peace.
In a significant diplomatic move, a delegation of top U.S. diplomats is set to travel to Delhi to engage in discussions concerning a range of crucial bilateral issues and energy cooperation. The visit holds added significance as it is anticipated to include deliberations on potential dates for the Quad Summit involving the leaders of the United States, Australia, Japan, and India. Amidst recent speculations of a 'pause' in the relationship over the past few months, the delegation aims to strengthen ties between the two nations.
Scheduled to participate in these discussions is U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Donald Lu, who will also be attending the U.S.-India Forum organized by the esteemed think tank Ananta Centre. The closed-door seminar, inaccessible to the public and media, is expected to host officials such as Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Geoffrey Pyatt, Governor of Texas Greg Abbott, Pentagon officials, representatives from the White House National Security Council focusing on India and climate issues, and U.S. Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti.
This diplomatic rendezvous follows Mr. Lu's last visit to India in November for the 2+2 dialogue, which was marked by the overshadowing U.S. FBI case against an Indian national involved in an attempted assassination plot against Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the U.S. Nikhil Gupta, the Indian national implicated in the case, recently lost his extradition case in a Czech appeals court, potentially making the matter a topic of discussion during the upcoming meetings.
Apart from the Pannun case, the Quad agenda for the upcoming year, with India holding the Chair of the grouping, is expected to be a key focus of the talks. Notably, India had initially proposed to hold the Quad Summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi inviting U.S. President Joseph Biden as the chief guest for Republic Day. However, the U.S. declined the invitation last month, leading to French President Emmanuel Macron stepping in as the chief guest for Republic Day.
The decision by the U.S. to decline the Republic Day invite and the allegations in the Pannun matter had triggered speculation about strain in the India-U.S. relationship. Furthermore, uncertainty surrounding the Quad summit dates arises as both the U.S. and India enter election seasons, with the possible window in February rapidly closing.
The U.S. officials visiting Delhi, expected to be followed by other senior White House and National Security Council officials in February for the Raisina Dialogue, aim to sustain the positive momentum in bilateral ties that began in 2023, marked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's State visit to the U.S. during which several significant agreements were concluded.
Simultaneously, the U.S. State Department has announced the visit of Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, from January 26-31 to Delhi and Hyderabad. His agenda includes addressing the U.S.-India Forum and discussing the shared agenda around energy transition, reliable supply chains, and energy security.
Mr Pyatt's visit builds upon his previous engagements, where discussions revolved around similar energy-related issues, emphasizing the importance of adhering to G7-EU and Australia's 'price caps' on Russian oil. Recently, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on a UAE company for transporting Russian oil above the designated "price cap," highlighting the ongoing global dynamics in the energy sector. While India maintains its stance of not accepting non-UN unilateral sanctions, officials affirm that the country has thus far kept its oil purchases below the specified price cap.