India, US to map contours of new defence partnership

Parrikar Shangri-La

SINGAPORE: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US on June 7-8, India and the US will firm up a new military partnership, an emerging frontier in the indispensable partnership of the 21st century.

Speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, organised by the think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said on June 4 that that he would meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to “identify new ways to cooperate”. Modi, currently on a tour of five countries, will be hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington DC on June 7 and 8.

Speaking about managing military competitions in Asia, Mr Parrikar emphasised on the  importance of understanding varying national perspectives. Replying to a question, he said: “India’s Maritime Security Dialogue with China and many other countries will give a better perspective on each other’s view. It is in an initial stage but we are interested in China on maritime security.”

 “The US and India are committed, as part of our growing security partnership, to co-development and co-production of our military capabilities. That is something we have not had since the birth of the modern Indian state. We had two systems which grew up apart. We are trying to bring them together. We have a large number of projects on which we are working. We are planning to talk on an aircraft carrier to upgrade the Indian fleet,” Mr Carter said.

“On our side, another thing the US is working very hard on is in changing India’s status in US’s export control system which is somewhat outdated and belongs to the previous era. We are working on a host of research projects of military importance. The point is Prime Minister Modi’s Make In India policy and our technology policy should come together,” Mr Carter added. Elaborating on the growing partnership between the two countries, Mr Carter spoke about the US’s continuing interest in the Asia-Pacific region and its security.

US-China-India maritime exercise?

“If we continue to cooperate on security, I posit, we would one day be discussing a US-China-India multilateral maritime exercise, a Japan-Republic of Korea joint disaster response in the South China Sea, and an ASEAN-wide security network.” The Shangri-La dialogue is an annual forum at which defence ministers of Asia-Pacific countries meet to discuss security cooperation in the region.

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