US interested in working with India post-pandemic to diversify its supply chain: Alice Wells

Washington DC [USA]: Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Ambassador Alice Wells, said on Wednesday (local time) that the United States would want to work with India to improve the business environment, as investing companies are now seeking to diversify their supply chain.

While discussing why India matters even more during the pandemic and post-pandemic period, Wells, who is due to retire on May 22 following a 31-year career, said at an event that there is a golden opportunity for India and it should be seized with market-friendly approaches, instead of protectionist impulses.

Wells, a senior diplomat who has served as Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia for most of the Donald Trump administration's tenure, further said that the personal rapport between the US President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been clear during the last three years and this, in turn, helped the India-US relationship.

According to Wells, India and the US are continuing to discuss the much-touted bilateral trade deal, which is expected to remain unfinished before Trump heads for re-elections in November this year.

"There is a real opportunity for greater diversification as countries are looking to de-risk from China, and it could make sense (for India) that the right policies and the right commitments to infrastructure are put in place. We certainly want to see that happen and facilitate that kind of partnership," Wells added.

Commenting on the current India-China tensions, the senior US diplomat said that the border tensions "are a reminder that Chinese aggression is not always rhetorical."

"For anyone who is under any illusion that Chinese aggression was only rhetorical, I think they need to speak to India, where, India, you know, on a weekly, monthly, but certainly a very regular basis has to experience the pinpricks of the Chinese military," she further said.

Wells also said, "Chinese aggression is a reminder of what's at stake in building a world order and sustaining a world order -- that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as respecting the rules of international trade that have allowed so many hundreds of millions to be lifted out of poverty."

"We, in the United States, have recognised the MacMohan line. We have recognized that Arunachal Pradesh is an Indian state. We certainly urge India and China on the line of actual control to engage diplomatically to resolve any outstanding differences," the US diplomat added.

Focussing on Pakistan and its counter-terrorism efforts, the outgoing diplomat said that the country has taken some important but not irreversible steps. She firmly said that the international community's reaction to Pulwama attack was "a warning shot across the bow" to Pakistan and that "India did not come under criticism for its principal allies or partners or friends of Pakistan."

The ambassador gave an overview of the US ties and cooperation with India and reiterated that Washington desired to establish mutually beneficial relations with New Delhi. 

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