As US President Donald Trump heads out to East Asia next month on what will be only his third major foreign trip in his current term, New Delhi is not on Trump’s schedule as he embarks on a five-country Asia trip from November 3-14. But while announcing visits to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the White House conspicuously said the US President “will discuss the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region to America’s prosperity and security.”
The US has long pressed India to “look east,” particularly during the Barack Obama- Hillary Clinton years, but the American political and strategic lexicon now clearly extends Washington’s Asia policy as far as India, locating it in the Pacific sphere rather than restricting it to South Asia. In fact, India does come under the Pacific Command in the U.S military scheme of things, unlike Pakistan, which comes under the Central Command.
This will be Trump’s first visit to East Asia, and indeed to China, although the ostensible program that has enabled a five-nation swing is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, and and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Angeles in the Philippines.