NEW DELHI: In the clearest sign that India and US are converging on their foreign policies, the two countries pushed back against Russias criticism of the Indo-Pacific, unusually mounting a joint public defense of a strategy that is increasingly front and centre of Indias foreign policy.
At the concluding session of the Raisina Dialogue, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale and US deputy NSA Matt Pottinger took time out to refute Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrovs bitter criticism of the whole notion of the Indo-Pacific, which he had described as “divisive” and intended to “contain” China.
Gokhale said, “All those who have supported Indo-Pacific as a concept believe that this is relevant to the region and is going to be beneficial economically as well as in terms of security. From Indias perspective, we have to see what the Prime Minister said, and what he said was that it had to be inclusive, had to guarantee security for all and did not leave anybody out. If some people felt that there were other concepts, they were welcome to lay it on the table and we can talk about it.”
Pottinger described it as a “principled” vision. “It is a community of countries that respect the rule of law, stand up for freedom of navigation in the seas and skies above, promotes open commerce, open thinking and, above all, defends the sanctity of each nations sovereignty. So it is free and open, does not exclude any nation, but does ask each nation to respect and promote those principles that we hold in common,” he said.
Unveiling a new initiative to counter Chinas Belt & Road initiative, Pottinger said the US would be rolling out a “Blue Dot” network — “something like a Michelin star rating for restaurants.” Describing it as a “multiple stakeholder system” Pottinger said the Blue Dot Network would evaluate and rate infrastructure projects on certain basic criteria, like financial transparency, sustainability, no debt traps, etc. Japan has already signed up to this, and the US has invited India to play a big role in setting this network up. It is likely to be decided during the forthcoming February visit to India by US president Donald Trump.
Interestingly, Pottinger clarified that the US no longer looked at the Indo-Pacific as a “Hollywood-to-Bollywood” geography which had been articulated by Admiral Harry Harris, former chief of the US Indo-Pacific Command. “We have aligned our Indo-Pacific strategy with India and I call it California to Kilimanjaro” he said.
Gokhale added, “The Asia Pacific as a conceptRead More – Source