15 June, 2021

When The Deaf Talk

The Singh-Talbott talks have a limited utility, since a better idea of each other's position alone won't ensure progress.

When The Deaf Talk

AFTER eight rounds of talks, a spin-free evaluation of the Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbott talks is in order. Both participants and their staff have travelled through countless time zones in search of a new post-Cold War and post-Pokhran relationship. Each meeting ends with moderately upbeat appraisals, as might be expected. But where do we now stand?

First, it's true that both sides have begun to understand each other's security concerns. The last sustained bilateral dialogue on security issues dates back to the Kennedy administration, and the absence of high-level discussions in the intervening decades is a record of sorts for deafness between democracies. In the 18 months prior to India's nuclear tests, the Clinton administration committed itself to ending this abnormal state of affairs. The Pokhran tests dealt a serious setback to this belated initiative. When the dialogue resumed, Washington brought to the table a more urgent agenda - and a more constrained one as well.

Still, officials who covered important ground in privacy needed to show...

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