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Trump Praises India Amid Talks of Indo-Pacific Partnership

The Indo-Pacific strategy, presented to Trump by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, includes the United States, India, Australia and Japan.

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United States President Donald Trump praised India at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vietnam on Nov. 10, saying the country has achieved outstanding growth since it opened its economy.

Ahead of his Asia trip, Trump used the phrase “Indo-Pacific” multiple times, indicating his pro-India leaning. On Nov. 6, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented Trump a plan for a “free and open Indo-Pacific strategic partnership.” The move is being seen as an effort to bolster relations between Japan, United States, Australia and India, and a bid to counter the growing economic and military influence of China in Asia. “Maintenance and enhancement of maritime order that is free and open is critically important for peace and prosperity of this region,” Abe observed at a joint press conference with Trump.

China, which is optimistic that the Indo-Pacific quadrilateral initiative will not be a damper on its economic and military progress, has been seen as an aggressor by India, when it made inroads into Balochistan, South Korea, Japan and other Asian nations. Abe’s strategy is believed to aimed at keeping China in check over its growing influence in the region with the One Belt One Road initiative. China had also asked India to come on board but India refused the offer.

Speaking about India during APEC summit, Trump said: “Since India opened its economy it has achieved outstanding growth and a new world of opportunity for its expanding middle class. And Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has been working to bring that vast country and all of its people together as one and he is working at it very, very successfully indeed.”

Trump directly alluded to the Indo-Pacific strategy when he said, “But for this…Indo-Pacific dream…to be realized, we must ensure that all play by the rules, which they do not right now. Those who do will be our closest economic partners, those who do not can be certain that the U.S. will no longer turn a blind eye to violations, cheating or economic aggression.”

India is not a member of APEC, which includes China among its 21 members, and United States is seen as being in favor of membership for the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the India-Asean and East Asia Summits in Philippines on Nov. 14. Trump is also going to attend the East Asia Summit.

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