Randall G. Schriver, an assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said the United States and India had made great strides over the last two years, syncing lines of communications, holding annual amphibious military exercises and increasing arms sales to India.
“Defense trade has been a very positive area of our relationship,” Mr. Schriver told reporters last week. The two countries have together spent about $18 billion in security cooperation, he said, “starting from basically zero in 2002.”
Despite “complexities” between the United States and India, the meetings on Wednesday could yield significant agreements to expand defense training, military sales and collaboration on security technology, said Ashley J. Tellis, a former diplomat and National Security Council official under President George W. Bush.
But the diplomatic effort is not expected to paper over deep divisions between the two countries, including a trade deal that stalled after the Trump administration stripped India of a special protectionist status. New Delhi retaliated by raising tariffs on $1.4 billion worth of American imports, including almonds, walnuts, apples and finished metal items.
Nor is it likely to change India’s mind about its treatment of Muslims.
Mr. Tellis said the Trump administration had “been very conscious to not do anything publicly that might embarrass India” — which is why, he predicted, the State Department had toned down its criticism of the anti-Muslim actions.
“There is a perception that India is a strategic ally and a partner,” said Mr. Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Whatever their discomfort with the Modi government’s policies are, I think they want to allow the Indian democratic process to work itself out, and see where the country comes out.”
Jeffrey Gettleman contributed reporting from New Delhi.