David Cameron’s Visit to India: A Blueprint for Obama in November

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron attends a business meeting in New Delhi July 29, 2010. Cameron trumpeted a $1.1 billion defence deal with India on Wednesday, an early result of a big diplomatic push to court Indian business and tap new sources of economic growth. (Getty Images)

July 30, 2010

(KATAKAMI / BLOG AMERICAN.COM)  British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in India this week under much skepticism that he and his delegation of ministers and business leaders could do much to strengthen the ties between the two nations. Indians were either dismissive of the potential for a closer partnership, considering Britain’s own economic troubles, or were suspicious of the U.K.’s intentions, evoking the two countries’ tumultuous historical relationship.

But as the visit ends, it appears that Cameron could not have played his cards any better. In fact, the visit should serve as an example for President Obama’s own trip to India in November.

First, Cameron satiated India’s media by declaring that Pakistan should “stop exporting” terrorism to India. This quote was plastered over the front page of every newspaper and flashed endlessly on cable news tickers; it was enough to distract the press corps for a few days and make space to do business.

Second, in a speech at the IT giant Infosys, Cameron clarified that his interest in closer economic ties between the United Kingdom and India was motivated by the potential to create thousands of new jobs in the United Kingdom. This was the right message to send back home, and one President Obama will need to send as well, considering American fears of jobs moving from “Buffalo to Bangalore,” as candidate Obama once put it.

Photo : PM David Cameron & President Barack Obama  in Washington DC, 20 July 2010.

Finally, Cameron and his delegation were successful in forging accords on trade, security, and people-to-people contact, three areas critical to the U.S.-India relationship. And declaring the U.K.’s support for India’s seat on the UN Security Council was further music to many Indians’ ears, regardless of its feasibility in the near future.

The U.K.’s delegation put on a true charm offensive over the last few days, particularly considering the cynicism that clouded Cameron’s arrival to New Delhi.

There will be similar murmurs before President Obama’s arrival, and his team will have their work cut out for themselves.

Good thing there’s a blueprint now.  (*)

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