US India Security Council Community Meeting With Adam Smith
UNITED STATES: Mr. Murray Lee, President, American Jewish Committee (AJC)-Seattle, Dr. Bharat Barai, Chairman, Global Indian-Jewish Relations Institute (GIJRI) and Mr. Ramesh Kapur, President, US President, US-India Security Council supported by the Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest hosted a virtual Jewish and Indian-American community meeting with Representative Adam Smith, Chairman, House Armed Services Committee to discuss the close strategic ties between the US, India, and Israel. Chairman Smith spoke of the importance of defense and security cooperation with both Israel and India, Israel’s recent incorporation into the US Central Command to enable a synergy with other US allies in the Gulf on security issues as well as the close US cooperation with India bilaterally and as part of the QUADpartnership in the Indo-Pacific Region especially in the face of an increasingly belligerent China that affects all countries in the region.
USISC President Ramesh Kapur thanked Chairman Smith for his support for amending the export control act to expand NATO+5 to NATO+6 to include India. He also appreciated Chairman Smith’s remark that while India’s purchase of the S-400 anti-aircraft defense systems is definitely an issue of concern, the US will be looking at the larger picture as India has emerged as a key security partner of the US. Mr.Kapur highlighted that while Turkey, which is facing possible US sanctions over the purchase of the S-400 system has been at odds with US interests in Libya, Greece, Cyprus, Syria, etc., since the signing of the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, India has emerged as a key and reliable US partner. GIJRI Chairman Dr. Bharat Barai highlighted the recent anti-India resolutions in City Councils across the US to which Chairman Smith said while they were an expression of the opinion of some of the people from those areas, the City Councils do not craft Foreign Policy.
AJC Chief Policy and Political Officer Mr. Jason spoke of the opportunities for looping in India in the burgeoning trade, technology, and security ties between Israel and Gulf nations with US encouragement and support.
San Francisco-based Deputy Consul General of India in San Francisco Mr. Rajesh Naik spoke on US-India and India-Israel relations. Deputy Consul General of Israel in San Francisco Mr. Matan Zamir and Israeli Consul for Public Diplomacy in New York Dr. Adva Vilchinski spoke warmly about their previous postings in India before their current postings in the US and the robust India-Israel ties in key areas such as Agriculture, Water, Technology, Trade, and Tourism. Mr. Zamir also mentioned his memorable engagements with the nanoscopic but very vibrant Indian Jewish community in Mumbai. The program was conceptualized, organized, and conducted by Nissim B Reuben, Assistant Director (Asia), American Jewish Committee who is considered a joint asset by both the Jewish and Indian diaspora communities in the US.
Ramesh Kapur said that S400 to India should be made as an exception to India, much like the Nuclear deal where India was given an exception due to its great track record. Pakistan also wanted that exception but did not get it due to their track record. S400 exception is not being given to Turkey because of their interference in Syria, Iraq, and Libya and non-adherence to democracy. He gave examples of Pakistan’s khan who had compromised the nuclear technology by selling it to rogue nations that are in conflict with the USA.
Ramesh Kapur said the USA should also understand how democracy works in India and quoted his conversation with Late Prime Minister Narasimha Rao who had told Mr.Kapur that the USA should understand the various pulls and pressures of Indian democracy.
Ramesh Kapur said that the Goal of the US India Security Council is to keep 350 million Americans safer and 1.4 billion Indians safe.
Congressman Adam Smith said that the relationship with India is strategic and that we should look forward to a closer association in partnership with Israel. He said that there should be healthy competition on getting the best technology to India from the USA and Israel and does not see any threat in business between the USA and Israel.
Congressman Adam Smith said that India should not worry about some of the state legislatures passing Anti-India statements and resolutions as it does not affect the foreign policy of the USA. He also quoted a small demonstration by over 200 people against India on the Kashmir issue in Seattle on his last visit and said that is the part and parcel of democracy.
Congressman Adam Smith said that he does not have an issue with India working with countries that are in conflict with the USA like – Iran etc and said that it is part of the countries foreign policy. The issue arises when the forces against the USA pose an existential threat and security threat and that is when the USA will be concerned and act in its best interest. He said that the relationship between India and Iran can help the USA mend its differences with Iran.
Congressman Adam Smith said that he understands the different conflict of opinions and quoted an example of residents in his complex having different opinions and said that a country like India with 1.4 billion is bound to have a conflict of opinions and said that the USA will work on common areas of mutual interest that will further build a stronger bond between the democracies.
Congressman Adam Smith said that he is concerned about the USA’s strength to take on China in case of a conflict but suggested in the meanwhile that the best way to move forward is to make strategic partnerships and act in the best interests of USA foreign policy. He said that he is concerned about how china is having an aggressive policy to its neighbors along with some of its allies and said that the QUAD partnership between the USA, India, Japan, and Australia is a good counter to such offensive trade and defense policies of china and their allies.
Congressman Adam Smith said that he was concerned about wealth being concentrated in a few hands in the country and said that trade agreements should be done with the objective of proper wealth distribution and efforts should be made to share the profits with the workers and allow them the dignity of proper lifestyle.
Congressman Adam Smith said that he plans to visit India by the end of this year provided the restrictions are lifted. Ramesh offered to accompany the congressman with Dr.Bharat Barai and an Indian American delegation.
Nissim Rueben (Program Director – American Jewish Committee) introduced the former Israel diplomats to India and they all shared the amazing warmth and friendship that they shared in India with the people and country and said that it was one of their best tenures given the warm relations between Israel and India. Nissim closed the meeting with a vote of thanks for Congressman Adam Smith, Israel Diplomats, AJC, US India Security Council Leadership, and other participants for taking part in the dialogue and said that many such meetings will be organized to build a stronger partnership between the USA, Israel, and India.
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