India may determine in subsequent US Presidential debate

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 17

The next and final US Presidential debate on October 22 could feature India and the wider neighbourhood, sources here tracking the trajectory of the Presidential elections have said.

The two candidates — US President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden — have not dwelt much on the American foreign policy, especially in the Asia Pacific, that seems to be the focus of the current administration. The scant focus on foreign policy so far is also because one out of three scheduled debates was cancelled after Trump refused to participate in an on-line format.

The moderator, Christine Welker, has chosen six topics for in-depth discussions with the two candidates. While three are domestic issues, the other three — climate change, leadership and national security — have international ramifications and will be of interest to the Indian foreign and security policy-makers. The three domestic issues are COVID-19, race and American families.

The topics in the first Presidential debate were mostly inward-looking. These included the records of the candidates, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, race and violence and the integrity of the election. Only the sixth topic, the economy, had direct foreign policy ramifications.

On the human rights side, a free pass is expected from Trump. Biden, though, could give anxious moments to Indian policy-makers if he dwells on Kashmir and proposes that India and Pakistan should take to each other to resolve it, which was the mainstream democratic position, said the sources.

They, however, expect a greater likelihood of Biden focusing more on the unrest and repression in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. The future direction that the Quad would take will also be a matter of interest as also future policies towards Russia and Israel and Palestine.

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