The bilateral relationship between India and the US has moved forward and deepened, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Friday asserting that post the Ukrainian war, she sees more and more windows of opportunities opening.
Sitharaman was here to attend the annual spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. During her visit, she also held a host of bilateral meetings and participated in many multilateral meetings. She interacted with several top officials of the Biden administration.
”There is an understanding that India’s relationship with the United States has actually moved forward. It’s gotten deeper. There is no one questioning that,” she told reporters in response to a question on the bilateral relationship.
”But there is also an understanding, not just the legacy dependence for defence equipments on Russia…that India has legacy issues as much as relationships over several decades. And if anything, I can say with a bit of a confidence there is a positive understanding. It is not a negative understanding,” she said.
”I see more and more windows of opportunities opening, rather than (US) keeping an arm’s distance saying you’ve calibrated your position on Russia doesn’t seem like you are getting closer to us. No,” she said during an interaction with a group of Indian reporters in Washington DC at the conclusion of her trip.
Sitharaman explained the developments in the Indo-Pacific region and the recently concluded 2+2 ministerial dialogue, which was topped off by a virtual meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden.
”Post that my meetings here have gone fairly well and it doesn’t seem to ranker people that you’ve balanced, you’ve calibrated your position,” she said.
”Also the discussions which are going on the Framework for Indo Pacific Economic Relationship is also gaining quite a lot of traction and PM said he would consider it,” she said.
She said India’s relationship with the US is improving each day. ”This recognition that there is a friend, but that friend’s geographical location is got to be understood. And a friend cannot be weakened for any reason. Geographical appreciation of where we are located…northern borders being under tension even despite Covid, the western border constantly at odds and sometimes even the equipment’s given to meet the terrorist issues in Afghanistan being diverted to hit at us these developments nobody can have an alternative,” said the finance minister.
It is not as if India has a choice to relocate itself, she said. India certainly wants a friendship with the United States. ”But if the US also wants a friend, the friend can be a weak friend, the friend should not be weakened. We are taking decisions, we are taking calls, we are taking calibrated position because we need to be strong where we are given the geographical locational realities,” Sitharaman said.