US remains "bullish" on India: Indo-Pacific Coordinator Campbell

White House coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, Kurt Campbell highlighted the growing stature of India in the world and said that the US remains “bullish” on India, adding, “Our interests are to see India playing an ever larger, responsible role in almost everything that we’re doing,” reported Nikkei Asia. Emphasizing India’s geo-strategic location and geo-political importance, Campbell on Thursday said that New Delhi will be the focus of Washington’s diplomacy in 2023 while envisioning a network of partnerships in the Indo-Pacific.

At Indo-Pacific Forecast 2023, an annual preview of political, security, and economic developments held by the Washington think tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Kurt Campbell said America and its allies are looking at India as a country they want to draw more into the Indo-Pacific, reported Nikkei Asia. Indo-Pacific Coordinator said that America’s traditional “hub and spoke” model of alliances — a collection of bilateral agreements with the US at the centre — is shifting to a new phase, which will be a network of alliances and partnerships. As a member of the Quad –along with the US, Japan and Australia — and as this year’s president of the Group of 20, India is expected to be the focus of US diplomacy.

The deputy assistant to the president hinted at more presidential and vice presidential visits to the region, saying that one of the most essential algorithms of Asia is “the importance of showing up,” reported Nikkei Asia. “We’ve got a lot of things that we’re planning for 2023, active travel in the region,” he said. The Group of Seven summits in Hiroshima, Japan, and the Quad summit in Australia, both in May, along with the G-20 summit in New Delhi in September are candidates for President Joe Biden to fly out. Biden will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in San Francisco in November.

Campbell also spoke on India’s reliance on Russian arms and said that the US is ready to assist India in moving away from Russia’s dependence. “We have clearly stated our interests to help India diversify from its reliance, largely on Russian military supplies. We work closely with a number of other nations, like-minded nations, that also seek that goal,” he said.

A report published in 2021 by the Stimson Centre calculated that up to 85 per cent of major Indian weapons systems were based on Russian-origin platforms, reported Nikkei Asia. On his most recent engagement with Indian officials last autumn, Campbell said that their viewpoints and interests were so similar that, “We could have exchanged our talking points.”

Other panellists at the CSIS forum were also bullish on India. Raymond Vickery, a non-resident senior associate at CSIS, said “India will be growing about 50 per cent more than the Chinese economy,” in 2023, reported Nikkei Asia. “It is either going to be the number one or number two of all major nations in the world. It will grow in 2023 about eight to 12 times as fast as the United States economy or the Japanese economy,” he said.

“It is the year of India,” Vickery said, pointing to New Delhi’s presidency of the G-20, the chairmanship of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the hosting of the Global South summit. “The stars are aligned,” he said.

Akhil Ramesh, a fellow at the Pacific Forum, said that India offers the US a window into the Global South, reported Nikkei Asia. “Countries in the Global South are aware of India’s strategic multi-alignment and, as a result, seek its leadership in global causes from vaccines to conflict prevention,” Ramesh wrote this week in an op-ed.

“From Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to, most recently, Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelenskyy, world leaders have reached out to Modi for a peaceful settlement on the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” he wrote. This week, India hosted the first Voice of Global South summit, bringing together developing countries from Asia, Africa and South America in a two-day virtual summit.

Stronger ties with the Global South, via India, will strengthen the US position, the thinking goes, reported Nikkei Asia. India, meanwhile, shares “camaraderie and solidarity” with the Global South, facing the same set of concerns, ranging from inflation, public health to climate change, Ramesh said.

In December, Washington hosted the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit after an eight-year hiatus and pledged USD 55 billion in development aid to Africa over the next three years. Manjeet Kripalani, executive director and co-founder of Mumbai think tank Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, wrote in Nikkei Asia Friday that G-20 president India and G-7 president Japan — both Quad partners of the US — could together bridge the rift between the two groupings, bringing together the Global South and the Global North. (ANI)

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