Even as India heads into election season, a number of important developments in its foreign relations are underway. On September 6, India and the United States will hold their first “two-plus-two dialogue” in New Delhi, where U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet with their counterparts in India. 2018 has already been a major year for high-level Indian summitry, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in April and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi in May, as well as an upcoming trip to Japan to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Other developments, including in India’s immediate neighborhood in Nepal, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, and in relations with Pakistan amid recent elections in that country, are also assuming important characteristics.
In light of these events, on September 13, The India Project hosted a panel of experts to look at the current state of Indian foreign policy. Panelists discussed the “two-plus-two dialogue,” India’s engagement with neighboring countries, and Indian relations with major powers, including China and the United States. The panel discussion also touched on Afghanistan and Pakistan, regional connectivity and institutions, and the broader strategic context in Asia.
After the discussion, panelists took questions from the audience.
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[The resignation of assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs Wess Mitchell] is surprising news, which seems to have caught everyone off guard. He doesn’t appear to have shared this news with his ambassadors, who were in Washington last week for a global chiefs of mission conference. His deputy is also slated to retire soon, which raises question of near term leadership on European policy at a time of challenges there.
[Wess] Mitchell was a strong supporter of NATO, particularly in Eastern Europe where he will be sorely missed. His departure comes follows the resignation of senior Pentagon officials – Robert Karem and Tom Goffus – working on NATO along with Secretary Mattis. Without this pro-alliance caucus, NATO is now more vulnerable than at any time since the beginning of the Trump administration.