In a first, NSAs of US, India and UAE hold meet in Saudi.

In the first engagement of its kind, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan met Indian NSA Ajit Doval along with Saudi Arabia crown prince and prime minister Mohammed bin Salman and United Arab Emirates (UAE) NSA Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, the White House said.

The four met “to advance their shared vision of a more secure and prosperous Middle East region interconnected with India and the world,” the White House said in a statement.

The meeting represents an unprecedented intensification of India-US engagement on West Asia with other regional partners at the highest echelons of the national security domain. It comes in the backdrop of significant regional developments. These include the Abraham Accords, where Israel and a set of its neighbours have moved towards a relationship of diplomatic normalcy; intensified backchannel communication between Saudi Arabia and Israel; India, Israel, the US, and the UAE becoming a part of an informal grouping called I2U2; and a recent Beijing-facilitated diplomatic breakthrough between Saudi Arabia and Iran that indicated a significant escalation of the Chinese diplomatic footprint in the region.

In its statement on Sunday, the White House also said Sullivan had met Doval separately to “discuss bilateral and regional matters”. Sullivan looked forward to “further consulting with Mr. Doval on the margins of the Quad Summit later this month in Australia”.

Delivering a speech at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy last week before departing for Saudi Arabia, Sullivan had said the US vision for the Middle East rested on five pillars — partnerships, deterrence, diplomacy and de-escalation, integration, and values.

While discussing partnerships, Sullivan said the US had worked to deepen the Abraham Accords and forge new coalitions such as I2U2, “which I can’t decide is a great acronym or terrible acronym, but it certainly can be memorable”. “If you remember nothing else from my speech, remember I2U2, because you will be hearing more about it as we go forward.”

The US NSA said the “fundamental notion” behind the partnership was to “connect South Asia to the Middle East to the United States in ways that advance our economic technology and diplomacy”. “And we have already got a number of projects underway and some new exciting steps that we are looking forward to undertaking in the months ahead,” he said.

Giving a preview of his visit to Saudi Arabia, Sullivan said the aim of his meetings was to discuss “new areas of cooperation between New Delhi and the Gulf as well as the United States and the rest of the region, fueled in part by the comprehensive economic partnership signed last year between India and the UAE”. “And this can help us carry forward some very tangible initiatives that we think will be unlike anything that we have seen in the region in recent years.”

Axios, an American digital news outlet, reported that the four countries had planned to discuss a major joint infrastructure project “to connect Gulf and Arab countries via a network of railways that would also be connected to India via shipping lanes from ports in the region”. HT could not independently verify the claim.

Sullivan and Doval will end up meeting four times in the first six months of this year. The two top officials, who have a reputation of enjoying the confidence of their principal leaders, had unveiled the initiative on critical and emerging technologies (ICET) in Washington DC at the end of January.

Besides their meeting over the weekend and scheduled engagement in two weeks in Australia, they will also meet when Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to the US for a state visit in the third week of June. Key deliverables of the visit may revolve around ICET, including possible collaboration in the arenas of semiconductor manufacturing, defence innovation and co-production, and space.

Source – Hindustan Times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *