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Remarkable progress in Indo-US defence ties: official


WASHINGTON (PTI): India and the US have made "remarkable" progress in their defence ties over the last five years, boosted by the civil nuclear agreement, and are now exploring to extend their cooperation to a broader region, an official has said.

Senior defence officials term it a relationship that is only five years old, but say there is tremendous scope for cooperation in the future.

India and the US have had some level of defence to defence ties for many years, but it really started in earnest in 2005, a senior defence official told PTI.

The Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, the framework for which was laid in 2005, provided a new momentum to the bilateral relationship.

"I think if you look from that point to where we are today in 2010, I think you see remarkable breadth and depth to that relationship across a wide range of issues," the official said.

The military of the two countries, who till early this decade were suspicious of each others' activities, now have been conducting a series of bilateral exercise every year.

"Given that it has only been for five years, I think that is quite remarkable. To me the foundation of that relationship is our incredible amount of shared interests.

"It is from this base of shared interests and common objectives that I think, we are really able to have a solid foundation for defence relationship and also to be able to move it forward," the official said requesting anonymity.

He said officials on both side agree that the last five years have also opened many an avenue for future cooperation, an aspect that is "incredibly valuable" about this relationship.

"We are now looking to where we can work together not just for our own good bilaterally but beyond the US and India into the broader region," he said, indicating that the militaries are now gearing up for jointly working together on addressing not only common challenges like in the Indian Ocean but also global challenges like joint relief and rescue operations in case of natural disasters or addressing events like piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Defence Minister A K Antony was in Washington last week wherein he held a wide range of talks with his American counterpart Robert Gates, prominent among the issues were included Pakistan and China.

While on China there is much larger convergence of views, on Pakistan, officials asserted that the goals are essentially the same, the opinion on how to go about the task might be different.

"I think there is fair amount of convergence on Pakistan in terms of what the situation is. I think there are differences, which one would not be surprised about, in how to go about addressing the situation in Pakistan, although I would note that both of our countries have made it very clear that engagement and continuing to try to work with Pakistan and civilian government is really the only path," the senior Defense Department official said.

He said the countries also discussed China, and maintained that there is "great convergence" on how both countries view the situation in Asia.

"I think, we had some really good discussions on China, but both countries realise that there is a crucially important need to work with China to engage with China and to bring China into the community of international nations in the international system that all three of our countries have prospered from for an extended period of time," the official said.

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