The US envoy to Nato has stated that his country is not actively pursuing additional members in the region, but that it would welcome further interaction with India if that country so desired.
Julianne Smith, the American ambassador to NATO, discussed how China’s growing aggressiveness in the region has altered the alliance’s strategy in the Asia-Pacific.
The organisation “has really transformed in a pretty obvious way” in terms of “how it conducts outreach and engages with its partners in the Indo-Pacific,” she said during a virtual news briefing on Friday night.
While the alliance hasn’t always had “a particularly rich agenda” with the countries in this region, it has made an effort to reach out to them in recent years.
When asked about a potential expanded role for India within NATO, Ambassador Smith responded, “The Nato alliance is open to deeper engagement should India seek that,” but added, “membership is not something that we have actually considered with anyone in the Indo-Pacific or Asia-Pacific.”
According to the ambassador, different countries knock on the door looking for varying levels of political participation, with some preferring to concentrate on interoperability.
Ms. Smith emphasised that “there are no aspirations by the alliance to expand this to a broader global military alliance,” meaning that the alliance will continue to focus on the European and Atlantic regions.
The envoy gave statement in reference to the Brussels conference of NATO Foreign Ministers
The envoy said in reference to the April 4-5 Brussels conference of NATO Foreign Ministers, “At this moment we would not wish to invite them (India) to Nato ministerial until we know more about their interest in engaging the alliance more generally.”
But, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Japan have all been invited because they have existing official partnerships with the alliance.
According to Ambassador Smith, “these are four countries that joined us at the summit last year in Madrid.”
If India is interested in engaging with NATO in the future, I believe that the door is open. Until we have a better sense of how interested they are in working with NATO as a whole, we are hesitant to extend an invitation to the ministerial meeting at this time,” she continued.
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