India-US ties to become more transactional: Hardeep Puri

New Delhi, Jan 31 (IANS) Though the new US administration under President Donald Trump is creating an air of turbulence, New Delhi’s relationship with Washington is likely to become “more transactional” in nature, India’s former Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Puri said on Tuesday.

Delivering a public lecture on “India and the Western Liberal Democratic Order” organised by the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library here, Puri said that successive Indian governments have contributed to the India-US bilateral relationship.

But, he said, during the Trump presidency, the India-US relationship “will become even more transactional”.

He said that Trump, being a businessman, was more likely to be inclined to cut deals with countries that he sees were in his country’s interest.

“Is Trump good for India? Even Americans do not know whether Trump is good for the US,” the veteran diplomat said.

“Let us exercise restraint and patience. We must convey to the US our interests quietly and work.”

Stating that India’s core interests were fighting terrorism, trade and visas, Puri said that India should use the new turbulence in the US to fight terrorism.

“Our primary objective should be to get Pakistan to change its policy of state sponsorship of terrorism,” he said, but added that he was not for international isolation of Pakistan.

Stating that the quasi state terror outfit Islamic State (IS) was “an unwanted child of a failed and neglected occupation”, he said that its formation was the result of the US creating a $500-million fund to fight the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

According to Puri, the IS is a “completely fabricated enemy” created by the US.

Referring to Trump administration’s decision to ban entry by citizens of seven countries for 90 days, he said that all these countries were allies of the US in the fight against terrorism. The six countries are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

As for trade, Puri said that with an economy of $17 trillion, it would be difficult for the US to withdraw from international agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). The US has been at loggerheads with Mexico over the Nafta, saying that the treaty was biased in favour of Mexico.

“Today you cannot take punitive action without being hit back in retaliation,” Puri said.

He also said that Trump’s victory in the presidential election and Britain’s exit from the European Union were results of the industrialised world’s inability to deal with economic growth.

The former Permanent Representative expressed happiness at the Trump administration’s decision to take up the issue of visas and lauded the move to double the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to $130,000.