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US supports modernisation of Indian Army, Navy


A file photo.

WASHINGTON (PTI): The US has come out in strong support of modernisation efforts of Indian Army and Navy, calling it a "good investment" as India contributes to peacekeeping across the world and stability of Asia-Pacific.

"We would certainly have an interest in security and stability across the Asia-Pacific region," US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said.

His remarks came in response to a question after he delivered a speech on 'The United States and India: A Vital Relationship in a Changing World' at the Center for American Progress.

Burns' statement in support of Indian military modernisation assume significance as they have come at a time when the United States has expressed its concerns about the modernisation of the Chinese military and Navy and sought more transparency on the part of Beijing in this regard.

"... whether it's China or India or the United States, looking out over the next few years, each of us obviously have a lot of very important domestic priorities to sort through in terms of economic modernisation ...and that gives us, I think, a common interest in a stable external environment," he said.

"And what that means is that each of the key players across the region can make security contributions to that to ensure, for example, that maritime commerce is preserved.

"So that's why the modernisation of the Indian Navy or the Indian military in general is a good investment, I think, in that kind of stable Asia-Pacific," Burns said.

It is "a good investment" in India's contributions to peacekeeping around the world and its ability to respond to disasters or catastrophes that occur, he said.

"And so for all those reasons we think it's in our interest to deepen that defence partnership with India," he said in response to another question.

"The only other thing I'd add is that I think it's important to measure it not just in terms of defence sales -- you know, we've done about USD 8 billion worth of sales in recent years; I think we could easily double that over the next few years -- but the reality is that what we also want to do is look at areas like co-production and co-development, joint research, so that we build a defence partnership that goes beyond -- important as they are -- defence sales," Burns said.

As India's military influence grows, Burns said, "Our hope is that our partnership can become one of our closest in the region. We're united by our experience of tragedy and terror, shared threats in Afghanistan and a shared vision for a peaceful and open Asia-Pacific.

"We're proud of our robust counter-terrorism cooperation, which simply didn't exist until a few years ago and now extends to all levels of policy and law enforcement."

Since 2008, India has bought over USD 8 billion in US defence equipment, up from effectively zero less than a decade ago, Burns said.

"When we complete delivery of India's USD 4 billion C-171 aircraft, our combined fleet will represent the largest airlift capability in the world. These are indispensable assets for global response to crisis and disaster. Last year's delivery of the C-130J Hercules came just in time for rescue operations after the Sikkim earthquake," he said.

"Our military services conduct some of the largest joint exercises with India, including over 50 formal engagements in the past year. As our defence relationship evolves from buyer-seller to co-production and joint research, it will be ambitious, and we ask India to be equally ambitious in sharing this vision of a new security partnership with the United States," Burns said.

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India  US  Army  Navy  Defence  China  

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