Clinton seeks deeper military ties between India, Australia

US Wednesday backed Australia`s growing engagement with India stressing that a deepening military cooperation should include naval exercise.

Melbourne: US Wednesday backed Australia`s growing engagement with India with the Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stressing that a deepening military cooperation should include naval exercise.
Describing Australia and the Asia-Pacific region as a key focus of America`s expanding engagement in the region, Clinton now on a visit here, said that both India and Australia should work closely together, Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The US Secretary of State, in the course of her address to the Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) meeting in Perth, referred India as the "world`s largest democracy and a dynamic emerging economy" and said "we would welcome joint Australia-Indian naval vessel exercises in the future and we`re eager to work together in the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation".

She said the US had made a strategic priority of encouraging India to play a larger role in world affairs.

After the meeting, the US announced setting up of a powerful radar station and space telescopes in Australia as part of Washington`s moves to refocus its priority towards Asia.

The transfer of C-band radar will considerably increase the capacity to monitor space debris in this part of the world.

On the topic of Indian Ocean, the US Secretary of State said, "Increasingly, these waters are at the heart of the global economy and a key focus of America`s expanding engagement in the region ? What we sometimes call our pivot to Asia".

However, the report noted, Clinton did not make any elaborate comments on China and spoke briefly on it.

"We look for ways to support the peaceful rise of China, to support China becoming a responsible stakeholder in the international community," she said.

"And (we) hope to see gradual but consistent opening up of a Chinese society and political system that will more closely give the Chinese people the opportunities that we in the United States and Australia are lucky to take for granted," the US leader said.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, who is also currently in the city, is expected to meet Australia`s Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Foreign Minister Bob Car today.

Last month, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard released the `Australia in the Asian Century` White Paper, a roadmap which showed how Australia can be a winner in the Asian century.

The White Paper laid out an ambitious plan to ensure Australia will emerge stronger over the decades ahead, by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the Asian century.

During her visit to India last month, Gillard had also expressed her commitment to continue joint naval exercises.

Gillard had said Australia was open to other forms of military cooperation including exchanges and training.

"Our defence relationship if underdeveloped indeed we have stronger defence ties with China than we do with India. So naval exercising is good way of taking the relationship forward given our shared interest in the Indian Ocean," Gillard said.

Clinton further said the US has always had a presence in the region and considers itself a Pacific power and that presence would only get stronger.

"In the 21st century it`s important that we make absolutely clear we are here to stay," she said.

Talking about India`s growing importance, Clinton said, "It`s exciting to see the developments as the world`s largest democracy and a dynamic emerging economy begins to contribute more broadly to the region".

She said that with Australia surrounded by the Pacific and Indian oceans, it was no surprise foreign investment was booming in the country.

"The oil, the natural gas, the iron ore produced here that flows through the trade routes to the entire world," she said.

Clinton is expected to attend the annual AUSMIN talks today where the rotation of US marines in Darwin will be among the issues discussed. She is also due to meet Foreign minister Bobb Carr and Defence minister Stephen Smith.


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