Washington: US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have pledged to intensify cooperation in maritime security to ensure freedom of navigation in comments that came against the backdrop of China`s expanding maritime ambitions.
A US-India Joint statement issued at the end of summit talks between Obama and Modi at the White House said the two sides also considered enhancing technology partnerships for India's Navy including assessing possible areas of technology cooperation.
"The leaders agreed to intensify cooperation in maritime security to ensure freedom of navigation and unimpeded movement of lawful shipping and commercial activity, in accordance with the accepted principles of international law."
To achieve this objective the two sides considered enhancing technology partnerships for India's Navy including assessing possible areas of technology cooperation, the statement said while dealing with issues relating to Defence and Homeland Security cooperation.
The two sides also agreed to upgrade their existing bilateral exercise MALABAR.
The annual MALABAR exercise includes diverse activities, ranging from fighter combat operations to aircraft carriers, through Maritime Interdiction Operations Exercises.
Modi and Obama while expressing concern over rising tensions over maritime territorial disputes reaffirmed their shared interest in preserving regional peace and stability, which are critical to the Asia Pacific region's continued prosperity.
Though the statement did not name China which has maritime disputes with its neighbours like Vietnam and the Philippines, the reference was apparent when it said that Modi and Obama called on all parties to avoid the use or threat of use of force in advancing their claims.
The two leaders urged the parties concerned to pursue resolution of their territorial and maritime disputes through all peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the UN convention on the Law of the Sea.
They stressed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region especially in the South China Sea.