Will help India defend sovereignty in tough neighborhood: US ambassador-designate
America's efforts to enhance India's capacity to "secure its borders" would be stepped up, said US ambassador-designate Eric Garcetti. Garcetti assured support to India to "defend its sovereignty" and "deter aggression" in a "tough neighborhood." He also plans on discussing with India its purchase of Russian equipment, particularly the S-400 missile defense systems, along with human rights and democratic values.
Why does it matter?
- Garcetti's comments come as China's foothold in the Indo-Pacific has increased drastically in recent years.
- India also has a complex relationship with its other neighbor, Pakistan. The two share a volatile border that has been the site of four wars.
- Garcetti notably said, "If confirmed, I will endeavor to advance our ambitious bilateral partnership united by a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific."
Who is Eric Garcetti?
Since 2013, Eric Garcetti has served as the Mayor of Los Angeles. He is 50 years old and a personal confidant of US President Joe Biden. He is Biden's nominee for the future envoy to India.
What has Garcetti proposed?
Garcetti testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Tuesday as part of his confirmation hearing for the position of US ambassador to India. He assured US assistance by sharing intelligence, coordinating counter-terrorism measures, and performing joint navigation patrols. He advised making an attempt through "military exercises, and sales of our best defense technologies" to realize the full potential of the India-US defense partnership.
'Indian-American diaspora strengthens US'
"The bedrock of our partnership are the human ties that connect our nations, embodied by the four million strong Indian-American diaspora that strengthens our nation," Garcetti said. He lauded Indian professionals who contribute to the US economy. "In addition, respect for human rights and strong democratic institutions are key elements of our strategic partnership and values enshrined in our constitutions," he added.
How have India-US ties progressed?
In 1992, annual trade between the two countries was a meager $2 billion. In 2020, it will be worth more than $145 billion. However, the defense trade was at a standstill at the time. In 2020, it was around $20 billion.
Garcetti questioned on India-Russia deal, human rights
Senators from both parties pressed Eric Garcetti to bring up various issues with India during his questioning. Firstly, India's purchase of Russian S-400 air defense missile systems could result in sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). CAATSA aims to penalize Russia by frightening away its major defense clients. The other issue pertained to human rights in India.
Why were the issues brought up?
Garcetti said addressing human rights and discrimination, through the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), would be a "core" part of his engagement. He was responding to Senator Ben Cardin who asked about CAA being discriminatory against Muslims. Separately, India and Russia have agreed to a $5.4 billion missile defense system despite the threat of US repercussions. The deal could impact India's relationship with the US.