'US committed to security partnership with strong and influential India'
Posted on Apr 17 2014 | IANS
By Arun Kumar, Washington, April 17 : Describing US security engagement with India as crucial to security in the Indo-Pacific region, a US official says Washington is committed to a partnership including a strong and influential India in the security realm.
"Our security engagement with India is a central element of the broad US-India strategic partnership," Nisha Desai Biswal, Washington's Indian-American point person for South Asia, said Wednesday at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"That's why we are committed to a partnership that includes a strong and influential India in the security realm," she said speaking on "US Foreign Policy in South Asia: A Vision for Prosperity and Security".
Asserting that the partnership "can contribute to the stability of the Indian Ocean region", Biswal said: "We remain committed to working with India as we develop a joint approach security in the Indo-Pacific."
The US had also expanded its regional consultations with India to include South, Central, West, and East Asia and would soon hold new rounds of several of these dialogues, said the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs.
"With a sixth round set for early June, the US-India-Japan trilateral dialogue has deepened our discussions on Indo-Pacific economic connectivity, maritime security, and coordination in multilateral fora," she said.
"Our long-term geo-strategic convergence in this region with India has never been more apparent," Biswal said.
Last year, she noted, US sent a senior-level representative to participate for the first time in the Indian Ocean Regional Association (IORA) as a dialogue partner.
"All told, we'd argue that almost nowhere do US-India interests currently converge as much as in the Indo-Pacific, the vast littoral arc stretching from South Africa to Australia," Biswal said.
Turning to what she called "our path-breaking defence relationship", she said spanning the last decade, the US has "made significant progress in helping India modernise its armed forces and in expanding joint exercises that enhance regional security".
"Today, we are proud to have a growing track record of notable defence sales, including, most recently, the C-17 and C-130J transport aircraft, and the P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft," she said.
Noting that there were "many more projects in the pipeline that will provide top-end equipment and capabilities to our Indian partners", Biswal said US was "firmly committed to a stronger co-production and co-development relationship, meeting our collective security needs and reducing costs".
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)