WASHINGTON: The Nato alliance is open to more engagement should India seek it, but the organisation is not seeking new members in the region, the US envoy to Nato said.
America’s Nato Ambassador Julianne Smith also spoke of China’s increasing assertiveness in the region and how it has impacted the alliance’s approach to the Asia-Pacific region.
“Nato has really shifted in a pretty noticeable way in terms of how it conducts outreach and engages with its partners in the Indo-Pacific,” she said at a virtual news briefing on Friday evening.
In the past, the alliance didn’t have a “particularly rich agenda” with the countries in this region, but in recent years, it has started reaching out to them.
Responding to a question about a new role for India in Nato, Ambassador Smith said: “The Nato alliance is open to more engagement should India seek that”, but added that: “membership is not something that we have really considered with anyone in the Indo-Pacific or Asia-Pacific”.
The ambassador said that various countries come to the door seeking different levels of political engagement and some are more interested in working on inter-operability.
The alliance, Ms Smith said, “remains the Euro-Atlantic military alliance [and] there are no plans by the alliance to expand this to a broader global military alliance.”
Speaking on the meeting of Nato Ministers of Foreign Affairs on April 4-5 in Brussels, the ambassador said: “At this stage, we would not want to invite them (India) to Nato ministerial until we know more about their interest in engaging the alliance more broadly”.
However, four countries — Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan — that have already established formal partnerships with the alliance have been invited.
“These are four countries that joined us at the summit last year in Madrid,” Ambassador Smith said.
“In terms of the future with India, I think Nato’s door is open in terms of engagement should India be interested. But we would not want to at this stage invite them to Nato ministerial until we knew more about their interest in engaging the alliance more broadly,” she added.
Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2023