|By Niova Roy Chaudhury||April 2017|
New Delhi. The US National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen Herbert R. McMaster, met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday, April 18. It was the Prime Minister’s first meeting with a senior member of the new Donald Trump administration.
The US NSA, while conveying President Trump’s greetings to Prime Minister Modi, reaffirmed the importance attached by both leaders to the India – US strategic partnership and to stepping up the India-US engagement across the board.
Mr Modi recalled his positive telephonic conversations with President Trump, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement after the meeting. India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar were both present at the meeting which lasted close to half an hour.
The meeting provided a valuable insight into the strategic thinking within the Trump administration regarding South Asia in particular and Afghanistan’s future, and countering terrorism, within the region and globally, a source told India Strategic.
NSA McMaster emphasized the importance of the US-India bilateral strategic relationship and reaffirmed India’s designation as a Major Defence Partner. The discussions ranged on a host of bilateral and regional issues, particularly their shared interest in increasing defence and counterterrorism cooperation.
During the conversation, they exchanged views on how both countries could work together to effectively address the challenge of terrorism and to advance regional peace, security and stability.
According to sources in the government, they discussed security issues concerning South Asia and ways in which to cooperate better on countering threats of terror emanating from the Taliban and Islamic State’s presence in Afghanistan.
Among senior members of the US NSA’s delegation who attended the meeting was Lisa Curtis, the National Security Council’s senior director for South Asia. A former Senior Analyst with the Heritage Foundation, Curtis, who is well-known for her plain speaking on Pakistan’s role as an instigator of terrorism in the region, has even been tipped to be a possible choice as the US Envoy to India.
NSA McMaster shared his perspective with the Indian Prime Minister on the security situation across Asia and in the extended region, including in Afghanistan, West Asia and the DPRK (North Korea).
McMaster left India after what the American embassy called “productive meetings” with Prime Minister Modi, NSA Doval, and Foreign Secretary Jaishankar. The one-on-one meeting between the two NSAs reportedly lasted two hours. Mr Doval visited Washington last month on a special mission during which he met McMaster and Secretary Homeland Security John Kelly.
The US NSA’s visit was a part of a set of regional consultations he held that included stops in Kabul, on Sunday, and on Monday in Islamabad, where he met both the civilian and military leadership.