Washington: The US is committed to a broad defence trade and technology relationship with India to assist it in military modernisation efforts, a top Pentagon official said, noting that expanding bilateral security partnership is crucial for security and stability in Asia.
"A close, continuing, and expanding security partnership with India is important for security and stability in Asia and for effectively managing Indian Ocean security in the twenty-first century," Admiral Harry Harris, nominee for US Pacific Command, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing.
"The US remains committed to a broad defence trade and technology relationship that enables transfers of some of our most advanced technologies to assist India's military with its modernisation efforts. The continued growth of our partnership should focus on working closely on common interests in a true partnership," Harris said.
Noting the two countries have a range of common security interests that include maritime security, counter-terrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the Pentagon said over the past decade, there has been a transformation in the US-India defence relationship.
"What was once a nascent relationship between unfamiliar nations has evolved into a strategic partnership. Today, US-India defence ties are strong and growing stronger, including a robust slate of dialogues, military exercises, defence trade, personnel exchanges, and armaments cooperation," he said.
"Efforts over the past ten years have focused on relationship-building and establishing the foundation for a long-term partnership. The strong ties between our two militaries reflect this, but there is much more room to grow,"he said.
India is critical to regional economic development, security and stability, and wide-ranging cooperation to counter extremism and radicalisation, he said, adding that this comports with US goals in the region.
If confirmed by the Senate, he said, he would focus on increasing maritime security cooperation, expanding the military-to-military relationship across all Services, and deepening cooperation on defence trade and production.
"I believe there is real potential to meaningfully cooperate on counter-proliferation, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, counter-piracy, counter-terrorism, greater intelligence sharing on common threats, and stability in Afghanistan and the broader Indian Ocean region,"he said.
Admiral Harris is optimistic that the India-US strategic partnership will continue to mature in the coming years.
"We are on the correct path to do so. Right now, our partnership is strong in defence trade," he said.