WASHINGTON: Indo-US military ties are closer than ever as America's re-balance policy in the strategic Asia Pacific region is complimenting India's Act East policy, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said today as he praised India for helping strengthen Vietnam's military capabilities.
"In the closer than ever US-India military relationship which – thanks to America's strategic and technological handshakes, with America's re-balance shaking hands with India's Act East policy and the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative grasping the hand of Prime Minister Modi's 'Make in India' programme – includes more frequent exercises and more mutual defence co-development and co-production," Carter told a Washington audience.
In his address to the Centre for New American Security – a top US think-tank – Carter said that the Asia-Pacific security network is coming together in three key ways.
"First, some pioneering trilateral mechanisms are bringing together like-minded allies and partners to maximise individual contributions and connect nations that previously worked together only bilaterally," he said.
For example, the US-Japan-Republic of Korea trilateral partnership helps us coordinate responses to North Korean nuclear and missile provocations.
"And our three nations will conduct a trilateral ballistic missile warning exercise later this month," he added.
"And through joint activities like the aforementioned MALABAR Exercise, the US-Japan-India trilateral relationship is starting to provide real, practical security cooperation that spans the entire region from the Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific," Carter said.
Second – and beyond relationships involving the United States – many countries within the Asia-Pacific are coming together on their own in bilateral and trilateral mechanisms, he noted.
"For example, India is increasing its training with Vietnam’s military and coast guard on their common platforms. And the Japan-Australia-India trilateral meeting last year was a welcome development and addition to the region’s security network," Carter said.
"And third, and even more broadly, all of our nations are creating a networked, multilateral regional security architecture – from one end of the region to the other – through the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus," he said, adding that later this year he would host an informal defence ministers dialogue in Hawaii with all of the ASEAN countries.
Carter said the Asia-Pacific security network is not aimed at any particular country.
"Although we have disagreements with China, especially over its destabilising behaviour in the South China Sea, we're committed to working with them and to persuading them to avoid self-isolation," he said.