Within a fortnight of the highly successful India visit of President Barack Obama, a top Pentagon official has said identified India as a "natural ally" of the United States with which the defence relationship is getting stronger.
The state of the defence relationship with India is "very positive and very strong and getting stronger," Michele Flournoy, the Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, said in an interview to the American Forces Press Service.
India, she said, is the second-most populated nation in the world after China and a natural ally to the U.S.
The Indians, Ms. Flournoy said, want to cooperate with the U.S. The Indian military frequently conducts exercises with the United States and there is a vital exchange programme between the two nations.
"We're trying to move into areas where we can be more cooperative operationally -- like maritime security or humanitarian assistance and disaster relief," she said, adding, "They have a lot of capability and a lot of well-trained people and they are great partners. We are looking to grow that relationship over time."
Meanwhile, she said Chinese have used its military relationship with the U.S. more as a "rheostat" and her country would like to have a military-to-military relationship with Beijing that is as comprehensive and collaborative as they have on diplomatic and economic issues.
"The Chinese have used the military relationship more as a rheostat. It's on when everything is happy," she said.