Washington: India and the US today vowed to fast-track their military ties as defence ministers of the two countries held wide-ranging talks on regional and global security issues besides touching upon the growing global menace of terrorism.
During their one-and-a-half hour long closed door discussions, Manohar Parrikar said, he and Ashton Carter “reviewed the cooperation between our armed forces which have grown stronger”.
Underlining that both India and the US share a strategic partnership that “reflects their shared values and interests”, Parrikar said: “Defence and security cooperation is a vital component of this partnership.”
The two leaders discussed a range of issues covering the entire spectrum of the bilateral defence partnership.
“We also exchanged views on global and regional security issues. We noted the good progress made under DTTI (US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative),” Parrikar said about the discussions held during his maiden visit to the US.
He added that the bilateral defence ties have been moving at the pace of a year under the past leadership pitted against a month under the current.
“I think what we have achieved in the last 15 months is remarkable and probably a month against a year” since independence, Parrikar told reporters in the joint news conference with the US Defence Secretary, Carter.
“I expect to progress at the speed of a year per month,” Parrikar said in response to a question.
Carter, too, said the relationship is moving at a fast pace.
“The pace is picking up. We’ve done so much more in the last year probably than we’ve done in the 10 years before that. And I’m guessing in the next 10 months, we will do yet again more than we’ve done in the last year,” he said.
Referring to the joint co-production and co-development projects, Carter said: “These are not only larger projects, but they have a different character.
“That’s what DTTI is about. It’s about projects in which we work together, sharing technology and sharing production, which is good for our companies and good for our technology base, consistent with the Make in India policy of Prime Minister Modi.
“It reinforces the very deep cultural relationship between the United States and India – a people-to-people thing, a democracy-to-democracy, and innovative culture to innovative culture, sticking up for principles around the world.”
Carter added that they “talked about maritime domain, security throughout Asia, South Asia, and so forth”.
Noting that Indo-Asia-Pacific is one of the most consequential parts of the world for America’s future, Carter said the US “welcomes India’s rise as a security partner in the region: a region where half of humanity lives, and half of the world’s economic activity takes place”.
“Through our meetings today and expanded cooperation in
the days to come, the US-India defence partnership will become an anchor of global security, as together, we work towards a common future, a common future between the United States and India that is destined,” Carter said.
This is a relationship that will be critical in strengthening the Indo-Asia-Pacific security architecture, so that everyone there can continue to rise and prosper, he added.
“What we see going on between our two countries is a handshake of two complementary initiatives: India’s Make in India policy, and the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative, and also India’s Act East policy, and American’s re-balance to the Asia-Pacific,” he said.
Parrikar said relations between India and the US have grown stronger under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama.
The Indian minister conveyed to the US his government’s desire to further collaborate in the higher-end technologies within the framework of DTTI.
“Today, India – I’m pleased to say – is conducting more military exercises with US than any other country,” Parrikar said, adding that terrorism was one of the key topics of discussion.
“Terrorism has become a global phenomenon and requires a comprehensive response. Terrorists of all shades and affiliations must be countered without any differentiation,” he asserted.
Earlier on his arrival at the Pentagon, Parrikar was given an enhanced honor cordon by the American military as he was welcomed by the US Defence Secretary. The meeting between the two leaders began soon thereafter.