The United States (US) Ambassador to New Zealand Scot Brown, who was visiting Gurudwara ThathIshar Darbar in Manurewa on Monday, August 13, had asserted that there was nothing to worry about the current state of the relationship between the United States and India.
Ambassador Brown was speaking with the Indian Weekender on the sidelines of his first visit to the Sikh Gurudwara in New Zealand, which was facilitated by the Kiwi-Indian MP, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi.
“There are highs and lows in every good friendship and like all good friends do, they just go and resolve their problems,” Ambassador Brown said about the current state of the relationship between India and the US.
It is important to note that many experts have recently opined that current relationship between the two countries is placed in bit awkward position, with phases of intense engagement followed by phases of disappointments and reluctant-engagements.
Among a few disappointments causing concerns among experts were the two-time cancellation of the high level “two plus two dialogue” on economy and defence matters involving Secretaries of State and Defence from the US, and the Ministers of External Affairs and Defence from India.
This is before President Trump’s Special Ambassador to United Nations, Niki Haley had recently advised India to stop buying oil from Iran – causing concerns on India’s energy security and about the long-standing holy grail in India’s foreign-security thinking of - strategic autonomy.
However, these disappointments have come after some unprecedented highs in the US-India relationship, when President Trump and Prime Minister Modi had met in a summit-level meeting earlier in 2017, and President Trump had referred India as “a leading global player,” in its National security Strategy, as opposed to a “regional power.”
Visit to Sikh Gurudwara
Speaking more about his visit to Sikh Gurudwara in Auckland Ambassador Brown said, “Anytime you go to a place where people are working for the community regardless of the religion, faith or ethnicity, it’s a good thing.”
“I have visited a Sikh temple previously once in the [United] States where we have a very strong relationship with the Indian community.
“This is the first time I am visiting a Sikh temple in New Zealand and interacting with the community in depth,” Ambassador Brown said.
On being probed what brings him to Sikh Gurudwara in Auckland, Ambassador Brown said, “I pledged to meet all the 120 parliamentarians, and today I completed 102. I met Kanwaljit Bakshi, and he was kind enough to invite me to the Sikh temple to the meet the community, so here we are in Gurudwara.”
Partnership in the Indo-Pacific region
“India and the United States are the oldest and most respected democracies in the Pacific region.
“We are working to make this part of the world- Indo Pacific region – a stable and prosperous region where anyone can go and traverse and trade without any issues from other countries,” Ambassador Brown said.
The Ambassador seemed unfazed by reluctance in New Zealand’s strategic community in accepting the word of Indo-Pacific as opposed to their preferred terminology of Asia-Pacific to refer to the geopolitics of this region.
“I will not get into the semantics while describing our long-standing relationship with New Zealand.
“Like India, we have agreements and disagreements with New Zealand. More so with NZ, we have a long and robust history.
“I have chosen to be here because of the five-eye strong and friendly relationship. We agree on more than we disagree. I know NZ puts a lot of efforts in the war against terror and security issues traversing through the South China Sea area to establish a free and open way to transport goods and services through the region,” Ambassador Brown asserted.
Growing linkage between Kiwi-Indians and Indian-Americans
When probed on the prospects of growing linkages between the Kiwi-Indians and the Indian-Americans as a leveraging tool for improving overall US-India relationship, Ambassador Brown said, “We have a substantial size of the Indian and Sikh community. I note that there is a sizeable Indian community in New Zealand as well.
“There is always an excellent opportunity for trade and investment between the two communities,” Ambassador Brown said.
About Ambassador Brown
Ambassador Brown has completed more than one year of his tenure in New Zealand.
Before his appointment to the role of Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, Mr Brown was a career politician, who has been an attorney and elected to Senate for three years where he served in several high-profile committees including Homeland Security.
Ambassador Brown is a career politician, who has been an attorney in the state of Massachusetts and elected to Senate for three years where he had served in several high-profile committees including Homeland Security.
Ambassador Brown is passionate about triathlon and had already participated in two important races in New Zealand.