NEW DELHI: India and the US have a growing convergence of strategic interests and both sides seek a resilient and rules-based international order that safeguards the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday.
Singh said the recent India-US '2+2' dialogue and fruitful conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden have created the ground for a more ambitious and strategic engagement between the two sides.
In an address at the American Chamber of Commerce in India, he said both India and the US share a common vision of a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region.
"We have a growing convergence of strategic interests as both countries seek a resilient, rules-based international order that safeguards sovereignty and territorial integrity, upholds democratic values and promotes peace and prosperity for all," he said.
The defence minister also described the India-US economic engagement as one of the defining business relationships of the 21st century and said there has been a rebound in bilateral trade over the last year, surpassing USD 113 billion (one billion =10,000 lakhs) in goods.
"In the context of this increasing trade, the India-US Trade Policy Forum discussions to expand bilateral trade, remove market access barriers, and improve ease of business become increasingly important," he said.
Singh said the "defence pillar" of the US-India relationship is strong and growing. "It is built on foundational bilateral agreements, military to military engagements, cooperation in the enhancement of defence capabilities and now a new emphasis on co-development and co-production," he said.
"Of late, some of the US companies have expanded their local presence in partnership with Indian companies, producing in India, for India and for the world. However, we believe this is just a beginning," Singh said.
The India-US '2+2' dialogue had taken place in Washington on April 11. Defence Minister Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held the dialogue with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony J Blinken.
Ahead of the dialogue on that day, Prime Minister Modi and President Biden held a virtual meeting during which the crisis in Ukraine figured prominently.
"As we move forward to strengthen our relationship, I would like to emphasise the need to move from a buyer-seller relationship to one of partner nations and business partners," Singh said.
"I think, India and the United States are uniquely poised to leverage each other's strengths for a win-win model in the coming years," he said.