Washington, Nov 2
Describing India-US ties as a priority for Washington, the Pentagon expects India’s importance to US interests to grow as India increasingly assumes leadership roles as a major regional and emerging global power.
“The United States and India are natural partners, destined to be closer because of shared interests and values and our mutual desire for a stable and secure world,” the Defence Department said in a report to the US Congress on US-India Security Cooperation.
“A strong bilateral partnership is in US interests and benefits both countries,” said the report prepared in response to a request from the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee on a five-year action plan to strengthen bilateral defence relations.
“We expect India’s importance to US interests to grow in the long run as India, a major regional and emerging global power, increasingly assumes roles commensurate with its position as a stakeholder and a leader in the international system,” it said.
Over the next five years, the US will continue to build the support structures necessary to ensure the maturation of a robust and mutually beneficial defence relationship with India in the Asia-Pacific and globally, the report said.
The US defence department, it said, “will advance the defence relationship by deepening people-to-people ties through continued military-to-military engagements, implementing agreed upon cooperation and pursuing new avenues of collaboration with particular emphasis on maritime security and counterterrorism activities, and expanding defence trade and armaments cooperation.
On the counterterrorism front, the United States continues to focus on Al Qaeda and other terrorist threats that emanate from South Asia, it said noting for some of these groups, particularly Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taeba (LeT), blamed for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, India remains the primary target.
As “LeT’s activities continue to threaten US interests and South Asian regional stability,” the US “will continue to follow the guidance of our National Strategy for Counterterrorism which calls for joining with key partners, like India, to share the burdens of our common security goals.”
“In doing so, we will seek to expand counterterrorism cooperation with India, and our current special operations engagements in the region will continue to focus on the mutually beneficial ways in which we can enhance each other’s capabilities.
“In both instances, the Defence Department will work with the State Department and other interagency colleagues as appropriate to work with India in the emerging Asian regional security architecture and other multilateral forums, such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus,” it said.
Asserting that deepening maritime security cooperation with India holds great potential over the next five years across a range of issues, the report said: “The United States appreciates India’s continued contribution to the counter-piracy mission in the western Indian Ocean and will support India’s leadership role in regional counter-piracy efforts.”
The US Navy would like to work with the Indian Navy to improve capabilities to perform higher-end, operational missions in the Indian Ocean region as the strategic context dictates, it said.