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US envoy for greater role for India in Asia Pacific

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New Delhi: Pitching for a greater role for India in Asia Pacific, US Ambassador to New Delhi Richard Verma today hoped navy vessels of the two countries “steaming together” will become a common and welcome sight in Indo-Pacific waters in “not too” distant future.

Noting that Indo-US security relationship is of a “fundamentally different” nature, Verma said they will cooperate “as never before” on the high seas as he urged India to continue to move beyond its “historical reservations”.

Verma announced that US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter will come to India this April for an “unprecedented” third visit in less than a year. “The ties between our militaries are becoming increasingly close,” he said.

“Our countries will cooperate as never before on the high seas, during responses to natural disasters, on maritime security issues and in consultation with other partners and allies in the region. I hope that in the not too distant future United States and Indian Navy vessels steaming together will become a common and welcome sight throughout Indo-Pacific waters,” he said.

Verma was delivering the fourth annual lecture of the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents here.

He said the two countries recently took an important step in this direction by concluding a roadmap for the implementation of the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

On the US decision to sell F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan, Verma said they were provided to address a “specific” counter terrorism and counter insurgency threat.

“The point that I hope to make clear is that the US-India security relationship is of a fundamentally different nature than our cooperation with any other country in the region.

“We have moved far beyond simply supplying India with defence platforms. Rather, we are helping to support the development of indigenous defence industrial capabilities that India will need to become the 21st century power it aspires to be,” he said.
Verma went on to say that there is “no place” where

India’s leadership is needed more sorely than in the Asia Pacific region.

“We look to India to continue to move beyond its historical reservations to seize this moment, to reassert its leadership role in the region in our shared efforts to promote the peaceful resolution of disputes, an open economic order,” he said.

Asked whether it was aimed at checking China’s influence, Verma said it was not about “containment” of any particular country but the coming together of two maritime powers.

Citing US offers to provide Indian forces with Apache attack helicopters, Chinook heavy lift helicopters and M777 howitzers, Verma said it was “akin” to the country’s defence relationships with its “closest NATO allies”.

“In the future, I am sure we will soon see US and Indian aircraft carriers operating side by side in the region and beyond to maintain the freedom of the seas for all nations… We are also eager to partner with India on solutions to its pressing need for modern fighter aircraft,” he said.

In a speech generously interspersed with former US President John F Kennedy’s quotes, Verma said India-US relations “flowered” remarkably during the latter’s tenure and that it did not survive his assassination.

“During intervening decades both sides held fast to preconceptions that obstructed our natural affinities,” Verma said delivering the lecture titled ‘Supporting Indian Leadership Across Domains’.

On Pakistan, Verma quoted President Barack Obama’s recent observations that the country “can and must take” more effective action against terrorist groups that operate from its territory.

He said “perpetrators” of terror have to be brought to justice and that US “won’t relent” on that message.

Verma said the US is not only committed to ensuring India’s inclusion as a permanent member of the UN Security Council but that it also has the “political stature” to act as a global leader.

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