National security advisor Ajit Doval left for Washington on Monday night on a two-day official visit to meet his US counterpart HR McMaster, secretary of state-designate Micheal Pompeo and CIA director designate Gina Haspel as part of New Delhi’s ongoing effort to cement military-security ties with the Trump administration.
Doval’s visit assumes significance because the scheduled two-plus-two April 18 dialogue between foreign and defence ministers of the two countries has been put off at least for a month pending senate confirmation of the incoming secretary of state Pompeo.
While South Block is tight-lipped about the NSA’s visit, government officials familiar with the matter say Doval is bound for Washington to discuss the security environment in Asia, particularly in the context of developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan region, Sri Lanka, Maldives and China. Doval has had a close working relationship with outgoing CIA director Pompeo and his successor and has hotline to his counterpart McMaster.
According to US and Indian diplomats familiar with the details, Doval will carry forward the spadework done by foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale and defence secretary Sanjay Mitra, who returned after holding preparatory meetings for the two-plus-two dialogue on Sunday night. It is understood that both sides have decided to deepen their defence cooperation and synchronised their views on the Indo-Pacific as well as the Quad relationship, an in-the-works grouping of India, the US, Japan, and Australia to counter China’s growing clout in the region.