WASHINGTON: US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter today said he along with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar will "identify new ways" to cooperate ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit here next week.
"Minister Parrikar and I will identify new ways to cooperate in advance of Prime Minister Modi's visit to Washington next week," Carter told the annual Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore today wherein he reiterated India's eminent role in Obama's Asia Pacific rebalance.
Pentagon said yesterday that Carter will accompany Modi when the latter visits the Arlington National Cemetery to lay wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown. He is also scheduled to meet Modi during his three-day stay in the US.
India US military relationship is as close as it has ever been, he said.
"Through our strategic handshake, with the United States reaching west in its rebalance and India reaching east in Prime Minister Modi's Act East policy –- the two nations are exercising together by air, land, and sea," Carter said.
"And there's also a technological handshake -- we're moving towards deeper and more diverse defence co-development and co-production, including on aircraft carrier design and construction," he added.
Carter said while peace in the Asia Pacific region has led to the miraculous growth of countries like China and India, but tension of late persists in the region.
"Tensions in the South China Sea, North Korea's continued nuclear and missile provocations and the dangers of violent extremism felt worldwide, pose challenges to the region's stability and prosperity," he said.
"If we continue to cooperate on security we would one day be discussing a US-China-India multilateral maritime exercise, a Japan and Republic of Korea joint disaster response in the South China Sea and an ASEAN-wide security network," Carter said.
Over the last year, progress has been made towards that vision. "China and India will both participate once again in the US-hosted RIMPAC naval exercise this summer. Japan and the Republic of Korea are engaging with each other in new ways," he said.
In addition to the ASEAN centric security network, which is developing in Southeast Asia, nations across the entire Asia-Pacific are increasingly working together and networking security together, Carter added.
He said two trilateral relationships -- US-Japan-Australia and US-Japan-India, are growing thanks to the military exercises among these countries.
"We've agreed to hold and begun planning on additional US-Japan-Australia trilateral exercises," he said.
The Secretary said through joint activities like this year's MALABAR Exercise, the trilateral relationship is starting to provide real, practical security cooperation that spans across the region from Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.
There are also trilateral cooperation around other initiatives. For example, the United States and Thailand included Laos in a successful bilateral program, and now our three nations are training together on explosive ordnance disposal.
Japan and Vietnam are collaborating on new joint maritime exercises. Japan is also working to build the capacity of the Philippine maritime forces. "And India is increasing its training with Vietnam’s military and coast guard on their common platforms," Carter said.
"The Japan-Australia-India trilateral meeting last June was a welcome development and addition to the region's security network," he said adding Indonesia has proposed trilateral joint maritime patrols with Malaysia and the Philippines, including counter-piracy patrols in the Sulu Sea.
"The United States welcomes and encourages these burgeoning partnerships among like-minded partners who share our vision of a principled regional order," said the US Defense Secretary.