Washington synchronises geographic conception of “Indo-Pacific” with New Delhi

[TamilNet, Saturday, 25 January 2020, 20:53 GMT]
Two high-ranking US national-security and State Department diplomats who attended the Raisina Dialogue conference held in New Delhi 14-16 January 2020 have gone on record stating that the US had expanded the territorial scope of the geopolitical notion “Indo-Pacific” to be more or less the same as what was being defined by the New Delhi Establishment. US Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger said the American conception of “Indo-Pacific” was now “roughly aligned with the Indian conception” and that it included East Africa and the Gulf. “More than Hollywood to Bollywood, it is really now California to Kilimanjaro,” he said at the session titled “Coalitions and Consensus: In Defense of Values that Matter” on 19 January.

In the meantime, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice G Wells on Friday said: “Pottinger's remarks at Raisina endorsing an Indo-Pacific region stretching from California to Kilimanjaro only further reinforced the strategic convergence.”

The notion of Indo-Pacific geography as extending from “Hollywood-to-Bollywood” was initially articulated by former US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris (2015 - 2018), who was instrumental in the renaming of the US Pacific Command into US Indo-Pacific Command on his retirement.

Admiral Harris visited Colombo to attend the SL Navy and SL Ministry of Defence organised “Galle Dialogue” maritime conference in November 2015 to woo Colombo into increasing defence cooperation with the US.

The US Pacific Command also started to groom the occupying SL Navy with a marine training programme in Trincomalee under the notion of 'military-to-military' engagement with the unitary State of genocidal Sri Lanka.

Harris now serving as the US Ambassador to South Korea.

Observer Research Foundation (ORF) founded in part by Indian business tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani’s family and funded heavily by the conglomerate’s Reliance Industries Limited and the Indian Ministry of External Affairs were jointly organising the Raisina Conference in New Delhi.

As far as Eezham Tamils are concerned, the ORF has been a highly controversial outfit with an anti-Tamil bias for a long time.

Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar's son Dhruva Jaishankar is the director of US Initiative at the ORF.

Twenty-two Member States and nine Dialogue Partners of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)
Twenty-two Member States and nine Dialogue Partners of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)
Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) between Australia, India, Japan and the United States [Image Courtesy: By Darouet - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64113559]

* * *

Alice Wells was also referring to her trip to Colombo before attending the Raisina Dialogue. Extracts from her statement follow:

“[M]y first stop was in Sri Lanka. I was joined by Lisa Curtis, the deputy assistant to the President, from the NSC. And as you know, Sri Lanka occupies some very important real estate in the Indo-Pacific region, and it's a country of increasing strategic importance in the Indian Ocean region. And we had productive meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was elected last November, and his brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, as well as the foreign minister, representatives of the opposition, as well as leaders of the Tamil National Alliance and civil society. And I would say the election itself was noteworthy. Sri Lanka is Asia's oldest democracy. The election was contested, it was fair, and it delivered a clear mandate to President Rajapaksa.

“In our meeting with the president, Lisa Curtis and I conveyed a letter from President Trump emphasizing the value that we place on continued engagement with Sri Lanka that's pursuing the path of reform and reconciliation, and we really welcomed the president's statement that he wants to be president for all Sri Lankans.

“We have compelling shared interests that include countering violent extremism, strengthening maritime security, preventing narcotics smuggling, promoting investment and economic growth as part of a free and open Indo-Pacific. And ultimately, the quality of our partnership will reflect our success in strengthening shared values, including on the critical issue of healing the wounds of Sri Lanka's civil war.”

External Links:
Stars & Stripes: Adm. Harris retires, Adm. Davidson takes charge of newly named Indo-Pacific Command
US Department of State : Special Briefing by Alice G Wells
US Pacific Command: Speech by Adm. Harry Harris at Galle Dialogue 2016



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