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India Presents a Wonderful Opportunity for US: Pentagon

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Washington: India presents a wonderful opportunity to the United States, a top US Pacific command official has told lawmakers in Washington as the Obama Administration proceeds ahead with its ambitious plan to strengthen its defence ties with India.

“India presents a wonderful opportunity for us. They share our values and our norms. One of my objectives is to improve that relationship with India,” Admiral Harry B Harris, Commander of the US Pacific Command (PACOM) told members of Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing on maritime security strategy in the Asia Pacific.

“I’m excited by the opportunities we have with India by the work that the Secretary of Defence has done and the Assistant Secretary of Defence Kendall has done with regard to the DTTI, the defence initiative with India, to help them build up their military and help them build an aircraft carrier, and aircraft carrier capability,” Mr Harris said in response to a question.

In his testimony, David B Shear, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, said in South Asia, the US is working with the Indian Navy on aircraft carrier technology sharing and design.

The US-India Joint Aircraft Carrier Working Group (JACWG) had its first formal meeting in August, led by Vice ADM Cheema, the Commander in Chief of India’s Western Fleet, he said.

Mr Shear was in India last week holding talks with Indian officials on developing strategies to implement the vision of the leaders of the two countries — US President Barack Obama, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi – with regard to the Asia Pacific region.

“When President Obama was in India for meetings with Prime Minister Modi in January, they issued a joint strategic vision on the Indian Ocean and East Asia. And we’re in the process of devising ways of implementing that joint strategic vision,” he said.

In response to a question, Mr Shear said the US already has a robust bilateral cooperation with the India.

“We’ll be looking at together ways to strengthening partnership. We conduct an annual exercise, the Malabar exercise in which we and Indians have just decided to include the Japanese. So that will be every year now. That will be a strong trilateral exercise in the region,” he said.

“We are looking at other, particularly in maritime domain awareness to strengthen what we do with the Indians because we have very strong common interest,” Mr Shear said.

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