US National Security Advisor James Jones has been in India this week laying the groundwork for a visit by President Barack Obama scheduled for November (Jones was meeting with his counterpart, Shiv Shankar Menon, yesterday).
Obama said last month that his visit to India would be aimed at making ‘history and progress that will be treasured by generations to come’. Yet the issues on the table for discussion are routine and don’t appear to be in any sense game-changing.
India is expected to renew pressure to have dual-use facilities like the Bhabha Atomic Energy Centre and the Indian Space Research Organization struck off the United States ’list of ‘entities’ that are slapped with technology sanctions. The US, meanwhile, will presumably press India to get a controversial nuclear liability law passed by India’s parliament as soon as possible as without it US power reactor companies can’t do business in the country and take advantage of the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Obama is also expected to lean on India to award the deal for 126 Indian Air Force Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (worth an estimated $10 billion—the largest currently planned defence purchase in the world) to one of the two US companies that are bidding.
Talks between Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are also likely to focus on the Af-Pak crisis, the implosion of Pakistan from domestic terrorism, and the in-the-pipeline China-Pakistan nuclear deal.
But it’s hard to see with this kind of agenda that there will be any ‘history-making’ going on.