US Defence Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pay homage at the National War Memorial
US Defence Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pay homage at the National War Memorial

New Delhi: President Donald Trump’s visiting emissaries on Tuesday minced no words in calling China a threat and showing solidarity over the Galwan martyrdom by visiting the war memorial here.

‘‘We visited the National War Memorial to honour brave men and women of Indian armed forces who sacrificed their lives for the world’s largest democracy, including 20 killed by PLA in Galwan Valley. The US will stand with India as they confront threats to their sovereignty and liberty,’’ Pompeo said while issuing a joint statement after the ministerial dialogue.

He added, “The US and India are taking steps to strengthen cooperation against all manners of threats and not just those posed by the Chinese Communist Party. Last year, we have expanded our cooperation on cyber issues, our navies have held joint exercises in the Indian Ocean.”

Pompeo did not stop at this. He went on to say that “our leaders and citizens see with increasing clarity that the Chinese Communist Party is no friend to democracy, rule of law, transparency…I’m glad to say India and the US are taking all steps to strengthen cooperation against all threats and not just those posed by the CCP.”

On the concluding day of the two day dialogue, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark Esper signed five crucial agreements, the most promising being the last foundational agreement for geo spatial cooperation. They made a joint press statement and called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi before flying out to Colombo.

The other four pacts that were signed are: one on technical cooperation on earth sciences; another on extending nuclear cooperation; a third on postal services; and, lastly, cooperation in Ayurveda and Cancer research.

A senior foreign policy expert said that the Trump administration has succeeded in killing two birds with one stone – first, by wooing the Indian American voter who can make a perceptible difference in some swing States and, secondly, by undoing the hurt caused by President Trump’s electorally suicidal remark: “India is filthy’’ remark.

A statement put out by the Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown, US Department of State, on the visiting ministers meeting with PM Modi said that “the Secretary and the Prime Minister pledged to further strengthen the US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership to ensure the security and prosperity of both countries, in the Indo-Pacific region and the world.”

While Pompeo tweeted that his visit to India has been “productive”, India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr S. Jaishankar, said in a Press statement that “our national security convergences have obviously grown in a more multi polar world.’’

Pompeo tweeted, “As I depart from India, I’m more optimistic about what we will accomplish together.”

Noted strategic expert Colonel Anil Bhatt that the Pompeo-Esper visit to the war memorial is very significant, especially their articulation on China and tribute to the Indian soldiers martyred in the Galwan valley.

A senior member of the Indo American Friendship Association, New Delhi, said that the timing of the ministerial dialogue cannot be delinked from the electoral campaign of President Trump.

“The electoral angle cannot be ruled out. It is good for his public relations and campaign. It is President Trump’s legacy that a major agreement like BECA has got signed. What is important is that credit must go to Trump, not his successor. Symbolism conveyed through this meeting is very important for both sides. The Indian Americans will look at this as a foreign policy achievement of President Trump. Out of the total population of Indian Americans, which stands at 4.1 million, those who are eligible to vote are 1.8 million. Let us not forget that so many things can happen on the India-China border between now and the time the new US President assumes charge.

For India, three months is a long time. Pompeo has hit directly by calling out PLA after visiting the war memorial and has shed fig leaf euphemism of the past and vagueness and blamed China for creating all the problems with India. This sends a very strong message to China that this border dispute cannot be solved at their bidding -- the way they want it -- and India is not alone.”

The senior diplomat further pointed out, ‘‘If you look at all these communication agreements, including LEMOA, COMCASA and BECA, if you put all three together without India being called a US ally, we have come to US the closest in military sense and are prepared to share every kind of information.

This loud, strong and clear denunciation of China by Mike Pompeo in a third country is exceptional. It will take note of this and they will now be reluctant to precipitate any crisis. In symbolic terms, this may even work as a deterrent for China as they will be doubly cautious.”

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