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INDIA'S PLAN TO CONTAIN CHINA'S INFLUENCE IN WEST ASIA



Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser, met with his US and UAE counterparts, who additionally were joined by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The presidents discussed a collaborative infrastructure project that would use rail to connect Middle Eastern countries. The ambitious connectivity project seeks to connect the Middle East to India by roads, trains, and seaports. According to Axios, the notion arose during meetings of the I2U2 group, which also includes Israel, during the last year.


The connectivity project demonstrates how much India benefits from the Abraham Accords, a Trump-era pact that normalized Israel's relations with several of its Arab neighbors. The proposed project indicates that India and the United States are prepared to extend their cooperative counter-China operations beyond the Indo-Pacific region and into the Middle East. The Biden administration sees the connectivity project as a strategy to counterbalance Chinese hegemony in the region. "No one said it out loud, but it was always about China," a former top Israeli official explained.


The connectivity initiative attempts to capitalize on India's infrastructure capability. Its track record includes contributions to cross-border electricity-sharing arrangements and the development of the world's largest train system. To oppose China's Belt and Road Initiative, Indian officials seek to expand their infrastructure footprint in the Middle East through the new program. India wants to be a part of a new multilateral effort to counter China's increasing West Asia influence, which is being fueled by Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) investments and a recent strategic deal with Iran. It is to be noted that China had recently brokered a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia and they resumed their diplomatic relationship in April.


India now has the potential to expand its influence, trade, and diplomacy beyond the Indo-Pacific area, all while holding the G-20 presidency, enjoying strong economic growth, and surpassing China as the world's most populous country in a year. India can also try influencing its way with SCO as India is leading t this year.




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