In a stunning new dynamic unveiled by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump's America ditched the pussy-footing and kid glove treatment of China that characterized the previous Obama and Bush administrations as they sought to woo New Delhi to counter Beijing's growing assertiveness in the region and beyond. He called on India to fully embrace the "potential as a leading player in the global security arena", adding that the USA expects Pakistan to take "decisive action against terrorist groups" based within its borders.
Tillerson's prepared remarks mention Afghanistan and Pakistan only briefly.
In a transparent smackdown of Pakistan toxic religion-based extremism and critics who have anxious if New Delhi is going the same route, Tillerson said India can also serve as a clear example of a diverse, dynamic, and pluralistic country to others - a flourishing democracy in the age of global terrorism.
"India is a partner for peace in Afghanistan", Tillerson said.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson rebuked China on Wednesday for subverting the global order, undermining the sovereignty of its neighbors and for being an irresponsible worldwide actor prone to predatory economic policies. He said they were "cross-screening" known and suspected terrorists, and later this year will convene a new dialogue on terrorist designations. "In keeping with India's status as a "Major Defence Partner" a status overwhelmingly endorsed a year ago by the US Congress and our mutual interest in expanding maritime cooperation, the Trump administration has offered a menu of defence options for India's consideration, including the Guardian UAV", Tillerson told a Washington audience. "So our message to the Taliban is "we're not going anywhere".
U.S. -India relations have generally prospered in the past decade, in part due to their shared concerns about the rise of China - whose leader Xi Jinping told a ruling communist party congress Wednesday that it was time for China "to take center stage in the world and to make a greater contribution to humankind". In July, the US sanctioned Hizbul Mujahideen, a Pakistan-based rebel group that fights against Indian control in the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Last week, Pakistan, acting on US intelligence, secured the release of a U.S.
"The fact that the Indian Navy was the first overseas user of the P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft, which it effectively fields with US Navy counterparts, speaks volumes of our shared maritime interests and need to enhance interoperability", Tillerson said.
In his speech and during the Q and A session that followed, Tillerson discussed the security threats in the Indo-Pacific region and praised the trilateral arrangement between Tokyo, Washington and New Delhi. He addressed "predatory economics" (possibly implying China's economic relations in the region) that was a danger in the Indo-Pacific region, where emerging economies needed access to alternative ways to get resources.
"India must take leadership role in regional security", he said, adding, "security and stability is important for economic growth".
US President Trump also hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House in June. While the USA wants a constructive relationship with China, he said, "we will not shrink from China's challenges to the rules-based order, and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighboring countries and disadvantages the U.S. and our friends".