US’s role in Asia-Pacific appreciated by ‘new friend’ India: Carter

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Days after his visit to New Delhi, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has underlined that as the world enters a new strategic era, the US’s role in the Asia-Pacific is being deeply appreciated by enduring friends like India.  

Terming India as a “new friend”, he said that new ways of investing and operating were required to tackle the five evolving strategic challenges that the US is facing.  

“We are entering a new strategic era. Today’s security environment is dramatically different from the last 25 years, requiring new ways of investing and operating. Five evolving strategic challenges, namely: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and terrorism are now driving Department of Defence’s planning and budgeting as reflected in this budget”, Mr Carter told members of the Senate Armed Service Committee during a Congressional hearing on April 27.

Shifting focus towards the Islamic State, Mr Carter emphasised that it poses the greatest threat to the US. The US-led international coalition is determined to defeat the terrorist outfit.

Speaking about China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific, Mr Carter said, “There, we’re continuing our re-balance to the region to maintain the stability we’ve underwritten for the past 70 years, enabling so many nations to rise and prosper in this, the single most consequential region of the world for America’s future”. Highlighting the encouragement the US has been receiving from its allies and new friends, he said, “As I saw in India and the Philippines at the beginning of my trip, our engagement in the Asia-Pacific is deeply appreciated and in high demand by enduring allies and new friends alike”.

With a major focus on two other longstanding challenges posing threats in specific regions, Mr Carter said that North Korea was one among them. He said that the US forces stationed in the Korean peninsula remain ready. “The other is in Iran, because while the nuclear accord is a good deal for preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, we must still deter Iranian aggression and counter Iran’s malign influence against our regional friends and allies, especially Israel, to which we maintain an unwavering and unbreakable commitment, and also our Gulf partners, with whom I met last week in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh”, Mr Carter said.

After elaborating on the five challenges, Mr Carter said that it requires new investments on the part of the US along with new posture in some regions with enhanced capabilities.

The US had recently offered a proposal to India for joint patrolling in the South China Sea. However, India has not committed to the proposal.