US, India Relationship Will Define 21st Century: Defense Secretary Carter

Defense Secretary Ash Carter helps plant a tree at the Karwar naval base in India, April 11, 2016, to represent the US-India friendship

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Washington, DC – The American-Indian relationship is one that will define the 21st century, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at the conclusion of his trip to India.

Carter and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar also announced in New Delhi an agreement in principle to share logistics assets for humanitarian operations. The two defense leaders spoke during a news conference following a meeting at the Indian Defense Ministry.

This is Carter’s second trip to India as defense secretary. Parrikar hosted Carter for a tour of the India’s Karwar Naval Base in Karnataka and toured the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

Relationship Grows

The military-to-military relationship between the countries has grown, Parrakar noted. India has more joint exercises with the United States than with any other country, the defense minister said. “In this context,” he added, “Secretary Carter and I agreed in principle to conclude a logistics exchange memorandum of agreement in the coming months.”

It is in both nations’ interests for the relationship to continue, Carter said. “First, we have what I call a strategic handshake — as the United States is reaching west in its rebalance, India is reaching east in Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi’s Act East policy that will extend its reach further in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” the secretary said.

The United States and India are acting upon their joint strategic vision statement and the 2015 framework for the defense relationship. Those documents call for the peaceful resolution of disputes, and for countries to make their own security and economic choices, free from coercion and intimidation. It also calls for “freedom of navigation and overflight that have helped so many in this region to rise and to prosper for so many years,” Carter said.

Technology Initiative

The secretary also spoke about the US-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative. “We agreed to initiate two new DTTI Pathfinder co-development projects, one on digital helmet mounted displays and another one on a joint biological tactical detection system, adding to a growing list of initiatives,” Carter said. “Under DTTI, the Aircraft Carrier Working Group has been a success, and we’re deepening our consultation in aircraft carrier design and operations.”

The two nations also are finalizing four government-to-government projects valued at almost $44 million, an investment shared equally.

The logistics agreement will allow India and the United States to share and exchange logistics. Carter and Parrikar said they expect that agreement to be finalized and signed in the coming weeks.

“We also agreed soon to conclude a commercial shipping information agreement to help our navies work together to defend our countries and promote and protect global commerce,” Carter said.

Meets with Modi

Before leaving for the next stop, the Philippines in his overseas trip, Carter met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, according to a statement released by the Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook.

Carter and Modi reaffirmed the strategic importance of the US-India defense relationship and their commitment to realizing the strategic partnership as one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century, Cook said.

The two leaders discussed the secretary’s trip to Goa, and to Karwar Naval Base and the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya — a first for a US defense secretary — as well as a range of security issues, the press secretary said.

Carter shared with Modi his views on the military-to-military ties between the two countries and his optimism regarding expanded cooperation in the future, he said. The defense secretary also highlighted recent advances in the US-India defense relationship, including the latest agreement in principle on logistics cooperation and a new maritime security dialogue.

“The prime minister and the secretary agreed that continued collaboration on defense technology, including aircraft carrier design and jet engines, will open new opportunities for co-development and co-production and further elevate the relationship,” Cook said. “The secretary also highlighted how impressed he was with the Indian entrepreneurs and innovators he met with during a breakfast roundtable in New Delhi.”

During their meeting, the prime minister and Carter set priorities to further implement the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Regions, reflecting the growing strategic convergence between the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and India’s “Act East,” the press secretary said

“The secretary reinforced his view that India, like the United States, seeks to be a net exporter of security,” Cook said, “and the two countries will continue to work with other partners to shape a regional security architecture that will allow all to rise and prosper.”

(DoD reports contributed to this article)

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