Engaging India

by Strobe Talbott

Reviewed November 30, 2004

Book CoverOn May 11, 1988, three nuclear devices were detonated under the desert sands of India. News of these tests shook the world, as well as United States-India relations. The situation deteriorated further when Pakistan tested its own nuclear devices two weeks later.

Engaging India is a compelling and authoritative narrative of the diplomatic talks between these new nuclear powers over the next two and half years. Strobe Talbott, serving as Deputy Secretary of State, conducted the most extensive engagement between the United States and India. He and his counterpart, Minister of External Affairs Jaswant Singh, met fourteen times in seven countries on three continents between June 1998 and September 2000. This book explores these meetings, as they grappled with the issues of arms control and non-proliferation, and the larger picture of United States-India relations.

Talbott recounts his meetings with Singh and the personal rapport that developed between them. This dialogue was a key component in defusing the conflict between Pakistan and India during the summer of 1999. Tensions over the issue of Kashmir had reached a boiling point, and the potential for a nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India seemed a real possibility.

The book provides an insider's perspective into the complex nature of international diplomacy. As the region remains a flashpoint for the 21st century, Talbott's memoirs offer an engaging lesson in nuclear diplomacy.