Both the US and India see the other as an essential partner in efforts to address Islamist terrorism – but for each country the specific interests differ.
The US is interested in seeing India thwart terrorist recruitment efforts within India’s Muslim populations – especially in light of evidence that both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have been targeting Indian Muslims to join their ranks.
Modi’s speech Saturday at the United Nations General Assembly must have been music to the wears of administration officials, who say counterterrorism will figure prominently in this week’s Obama-Modi discussions. Modi spoke approvingly of US efforts to reverse terrorist organizations’ gains in the Middle East.
But India is more focused on the terrorist threats it sees coming from its next-door neighbor and longtime rival, Pakistan. In his General Assembly speech, Modi said improved relations with Pakistan were possible if they were brought out from “the shadow of terrorism” – while he also lamented, in a clear reference to Pakistan, that “some countries … consider terrorism to be a tool of their policy.”
Modi is expected to underscore his support for Obama’s renewed emphasis on defeating terrorism, some regional experts say. But in return he is likely to want help from the US in addressing and stopping Pakistan-based terrorist groups that have struck India in the past.