US-India Strategic Dialogue: Views from India
At the Third U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue held last Wednesday (June 13) in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Indian Minister of External Affairs Shri S.M. Krishna announced in a joint statement several agreements on strategic cooperation, security, energy, trade, and education. This post examines the key issues that garnered the most attention in the Indian media.
Overall assessments of the high-level bilateral talks took note of India’s usual strategic restraint and desire for autonomy.
- The Times of India contrasted America’s sense of urgency and impatience with India’s much more cautious attitude and slow-moving pace. “New Delhi’s views…are tempered by years of experiencing what is said to be Washington’s whimsical and near-sighted policies.”
- The left-leaning Hindu observed that this Strategic Dialogue ” lacked the energy” of the previous round, with Washington pre-occupied with the upcoming election. On the other hand, The Indian Express faulted Delhi’s coalition government for its weak domestic support and hence inability to deliver on international expectations.
Media coverage focused on two main developments: Washington’s announcement prior to the Strategic Dialogue that it will exempt India from sanctions related to importing oil from Iran, and the U.S.-India decision to begin holding formal trilateral consultations with Afghanistan.
- The Times of India reported that New Delhi “welcomed warmly” the sanctions exemption, whereas the The Indian Express characterized India’s reaction as “cautious.” The Express also published an op-ed by Harsh V. Pant, a U.K.-based academic, who explained that “Iran has now only a marginal role in India-U.S. relations.”
- On Afghanistan, an editorial in the hard-nationalist Pioneer attributed Washington’s “new-found love for India” to the sharp deterioration in U.S.-Pakistan relations. However, commentator Jyoti Malhotra also wrote in the Business Standard that this is a ” great leap forward for the Americans.”
Another issue that garnered much attention in the Indian press but minimal coverage in the U.S. media was India’s ongoing request to gain access to two suspects in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, currently in U.S. custody. The Hindu asked, is India’s request “falling on deaf ears?”