Just a week before November’s election, two of US President Donald Trump’s top national security aides will visit India for meetings focused largely on countering China’s growing global influence.
As the bitter race between Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden winds down, the talks this week in New Delhi aim to reinforce the president’s anti-China campaign message.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper will meet their Indian counterparts for strategic and security talks on Tuesday, after which Pompeo will travel to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia. All of them are contending with a tug of war between Washington and Beijing that has intensified as Trump seeks to paint Biden as weak on China.
Trump has played up his friendship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his re-election bid but may have set his case back with an off-the-cuff remark about climate change at his Thursday debate with Biden.
“Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia. Look at India, it’s filthy. The air is filthy. ” he said, defending his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.