Indo-US ties will touch new heights under Trump: Mike Pence’s close aide

Washington: Indo-US ties will touch new heights under the Trump administration as the two countries are “natural partners” and have common interests amid China’s assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region, an Indian-American entrepreneur considered close to Vice President Mike Pence has said.

With Indian-Americans playing the role of an umbilical cord between the two counties, India and the United States have common interests in balancing the increasing economic and military influence of China in the Asia-Pacific region and fighting together the menace of terrorism in South and Central Asia, said Indiana-based Gurinder Singh Khalsa.

Founder and chairman of Sikhs Political Action Committee or SikhsPAC, Khalsa has emerged as one of the vocal leader of the Indian-American Sikhs in particular in the Midwest region.

“India and the United States are natural partners at this time. Both have an interest in balancing growing Chinese economic and military influence in southeast Asian. Both have an interest in fighting terrorism originating in central Asian areas like Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Khalsa told PTI in an interview.

“It is to India’s long-term benefit to continue improving relations with the US. We also have many shared business priorities, particularly in IT and tech industries,” he said.

China has been assertive in the disputed South China Sea region, building artificial islands which could potentially be used for military purposes. It is also building a number of ports in South Asian countries.

The US has called for freedom of navigation to be respected amid the South China Sea actions by Beijing.

Khalsa, an accomplished businessman from Indiana, is a friend of Pence from the days the US vice president was not even elected the Governor of Indiana.

Khalsa says he wants to focus on strengthening India-US relationship and be the voice of Indian-Americans and other such ethnic communities in the US.

“(Pence) has been very outspoken about the need for more economic cooperation between India and Indiana. Prior to his selection as Vice President, he spoke to us about his intention to travel to India after the election. He wanted to be the first Indiana Governor to visit India after the election,” Khalsa said recollecting his meetings with Pence.

“To be clear, his interests are very definitely in the United States. He is an American and he will be advocating for Americans. But, I don’t think that necessarily conflicts with his desire to improve economic and political ties with India.

It simply means, he’ll be a tough, but fair negotiator,” he said sharing his impression about Pence.