Avril Danica Haines, the first female Director of US National Intelligence, landed in Delhi on Sunday to engage top Indian security and strategic officials at a time when China’s aggression against Taiwan could have security and strategic bearing on India.
The maiden three-day trip of the Chief of National Intelligence, who supervises the coalition of 17 intelligence organisations, is seen as an appreciation of the strategic partnership between India and the US. And issues around China, the Indo Pacific and Afghanistan are supposed to come up for deliberations during her interactions with top officials here, said government sources.
A dinner has also been hosted for the visiting delegation on Sunday in addition to her other engagements spilling over to Monday as well, but government officials are not forthcoming about the scheduled meetings. She flies back on Tuesday, said government sources.
Haines visit has been preceded by a bilateral Indo-US Joint Special Forces exercise “Ex Vajra Prahar 2022” held on August 8 at the Special Forces Training School (SFTS), Bakloh in mountainous Himachal Pradesh. Adding significance to growing global insecurities is the fact that the two forces have also lined up “Yudh Abhyas” or war games closer to the LAC in Uttarakhand’s Auli from October 14 to 31. Indian and Chinese forces are in a standoff since the May 2020 clash at the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
Haines has been quite candid about her assessment of Chinese moves toward Taiwan. In May, she told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “It’s our view that they (the Chinese) are working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention.”
Prior to her India visit, external affairs minister S Jaishankar met the chief of National Intelligence during his trip to America in May. He had also met US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and later tweeted that “wide-ranging discussions including on Indo-Pacific and Afghanistan” took place.
While Sullivan had stated in his public statement that “Our people-to-people ties and our values are the foundation of the US-India partnership and will help us end the pandemic, lead on climate, and support a free and open Indo-Pacific”.
The US is one of the key global partners and defence equipment suppliers of Taiwan.