‘U.S. committed to help India build its defence capabilities’

The official said the India—U.S. relationship has now "emerged at the world stage" and is no longer a "restricted to narrow" South Asia or subcontinental set of issues.

June 07, 2016 11:24 am | Updated December 04, 2021 10:54 pm IST - Washington

The U.S. is “committed” to help India build its defence capabilities until it can be the “net provider of security” in the Asia—Pacific region, a senior Obama administration official has said.

“There is a recognition that as India grows and develops the capacity to protect its interests, not just in immediate region, but also broadly throughout Asia Pacific particularly in the Indian Ocean region. It is in the U.S. interest to build India that capacity until it can truly be the net provider of security,” the official told PTI.

“Whether India decides to operate with us or not, we are committed to help India develop that capacity to protect its own interest and to ensure that the Indian Ocean region is free from the kind of threats to maritime transport, shipping, the way it is being in the South China Sea,” he said.

Enhanced global co-operation with greater role for India, strengthening of defence and security relationship and initiating steps to boost bilateral trade are believed to be on top of the agenda for U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they meet at the White House on Tuesday.

The official said the India—U.S. relationship has now “emerged at the world stage” and is no longer a “restricted to narrow” South Asia or subcontinental set of issues.

“This level of engagement between an American President and an Indian Prime Minister is absolutely unprecedented,” the official said.

India recognises that it now has a tangible and active role to play in protecting its interest, the official said moments after Mr. Modi landed at the Andrews Air Force Base for his three-day visit to Washington.

So “it drifted away” from previous governments insisting on values and ideals like disarmament, non-discrimination to being “much more practical” in really reaching out protecting that interest.

The first manifestation of this was at the Paris Climate Change Summit last November.

The summit was successful largely because “Modi made a personal decision” to shift away from the integrated north— south narrative to one of really joining in with other world leaders to solving these problems, the official said.

“I think the President and the Prime Minister are likely to talk about how they continue their co-operation on world problems. That would come up in the meeting on different issues. And that would be reflected in the joint statement as well,” said the official.

“Secondly the other major convergence that has taken place in recent years is in the realm of security. Again you have a country that historically was non-aligned, probably more closely aligned to the Soviets than with any other country. The U.S. on the other hand was a major cold war protagonist and preferred operating with close alliances,” the official said.

“What we have seen from the joint strategic vision from last year is that there is really a strong convergence of perspectives on security matters including regional security matters,” the official added.

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