US refuses to talk China with India Days before US secretary of state John Kerry touched down in Beijing for his renewed outreach to China, US officials traveled to China to hold high level discussions on South Asia. There was nothing remarkable in this except for the fact that the US has refused to hold the East Asia dialogue with India for the past year. Through the East Asia dialogue, the US and India discussed issues relating to China and beyond, while India and South Asia are the subjects of discussion with China in the South Asia dialogue. From mid-2013, sources said the US has been stalling all attempts to hold the East Asia dialogue. Indian officials have even offered to meet in a third country but the new assistant secretary of state Daniel Russell, who took over from Kurt Campbell, met them with stony silence. Many in the Indian system describe this as "strategic inattention" by the Obama administration. It is most strongly manifested in the lack of engagement about Asia. A dialogue on Central Asia has fallen by the wayside as has a dialogue on Africa. A trilateral between India, US and Afghanistan last met around four months ago while a newly-constituted dialogue between the two countries on West Asia has met once. The US and India still have a trilateral discussion going with Japan. That too would have sunk were it not for the efforts of Japan and India to keep it afloat. Some in the US, looking for a way to kick-start relations with India, have toyed with the idea of a trilateral dialogue with China. But Beijing has torpedoed it, deeming it unworthy. But Beijing has not been averse to holding a trilateral with India and Russia on Afghanistan. Washington sources said Russell was not as interested in the dialogue with India as his predecessor was. Campbell was credited with instituting what many felt was the most productive engagement between India and the US. This was driven, sources said, by the interest of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton to the India relationship. With her departure and Campbell's, the India file has no A-list supporter in the Obama cabinet. Washington sources said Obama was immersed in the domestic agenda, and secretary of state John Kerry in the Middle East despite last week's visit to China. With vice-president Joe Biden concentrating on the China relationship, it only leaves the US defence department taking an interest in India. National security advisor Susan Rice, in her remarks to the Aspen Institute in Washington last week, said, "India is essential to America's broader engagement with Asia, where many of our national interests converge. We look forward to enhancing the ways that India's Look East policy and America's rebalance to Asia can be mutually reinforcing." With India entering election season and the US battling myriad issues elsewhere, such remarks risk turning into platitudes. US refuses to talk China with India - The Times of India ****************************************** Strategic partners? Comments.