The future of India-US ties was “bright” regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election, US deputy secretary of state Stephen Biegun said on Tuesday, noting that every American president had left the relationship in a better shape than they had inherited.
He also said the goal for the Quad– the quadrilateral forum of cooperation between India, US, Australia and Japan– was to tend it towards regularisation and, eventually, formalising of the group.
“This relationship is much bigger than one political party,” Biegun said while responding to questions from reporters during a press call organised by the London Regional Media Hub of the US state department.
Biegun, who was in India last week, told said he was confident that “regardless of the outcome of our elections, the future is quite bright for relations between the United States and these two very important …partners,” referring to India and Bangladesh.
“One of the constants in US-India relations has been that every presidential administration here in the United States has left the relationship in even better shape than the one inherited from its predecessor.”
Biegun’s remarks came in the middle of the US election in which the campaign of President Donald Trump has actively sought, with an eye on Indian American voters, to portray him as the better guide and guardian of the relationship than his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, should he get elected.
There are an estimated 1.9 million registered Indian American voters and they have been wooed this time by both presidential campaigns like never before in anticipation of the crucial role they could play in closely contested battleground states that will determine the outcome.
The Trump campaign released a video of clips from President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s joint appearance at the “Howdy Modi” event in Houston int September, 2019 and from “Namaste Trump” rally in Ahmedabad in February to convey proximity between the two leaders and countries.
Members of the campaign and other Republicans have argued that the president’s silence on the change in the constitutional status of Kashmir and the Citizenship Amendment Act reflected the administration’s support and close ties with the Modi government and India.
The Biden campaign has pushed back, arguing that the relationship will be in better hands in a Biden administration, pointing to the former vice-president’s crucial role and support in the conclusion of the historic India-US nuclear deal.
Biegun’s remarks on the future of the Quad reflected growing ambitions for the informal forum ahead of Australia participating for the first time in the multi-nation Malabar military exercises with India, the US and Japan.
The US diplomat did not refer to the military exercises but said in response to a question about the chances of growing the body to include other countries, “I will say that it is our view that in the passage of time the Quad should become more regularised, and at some point, formalised as well as we really begin to understand what the parameters of this cooperation are and how we can regularise it”.