‘Security talks reaffirm growing Indo-US partnership`

Last Updated: Saturday, March 3, 2012 - 13:11

Washington: The recent Indo-US security talks
not only reaffirmed the strength of bilateral ties, but also
showed that there is a genuine sentiment on both sides to grow
the relationship in a positive direction, the Pentagon said
on Saturday.

"These talks really did reaffirm the strength of the
relationship. There is genuine positive sentiment on both
sides and a real desire to grow the relationship in a positive
direction," Robert Scher, Deputy Assistant Secretary of
Defence for South and Southeast Asia, told reporters.

Briefing a select group of media at the Pentagon, on the
recently concluded 12th round of the Defence Policy Group
meeting held in New Delhi on February 21 and 22, Scher said
this is clearly one of the most important bilateral
relationships that the US has with any country.

"Successive Secretaries of Defence have noted this and
the guiding strategic documents for the Department (of
Defence) have noted this as well.

"We are committed to this long term strategic partnership
with India and believe that together we can very effectively
serve our interest and create a stable and prosperous region,"
Scher said.

Co-chaired by the Acting Under Secretary of Defence for
Policy James Miller and the Indian Defence Secretary Shashi
Kant Sharma, the two-day meeting focused on four basic areas:
defence procurement and production, technology cooperation,
military-to-military cooperation and technical security.
Scher was in New Delhi last month for annual India-US
security talks.

Noting that the purpose of the Defence Policy Group is to
advance defence relationship between the two countries, Scher
said US and India agreed to continue to priorities on maritime
security cooperation, personnel exchanges, defense trade and
developing new, cooperative research and development projects
for the upcoming year.

"Certainly defence and security realm continues to be one
of the greatest progress and promise in our overall
relationship with India. And finally there is no better
investment in the defence relationship than increasing the
personal interaction between our officials and our service
members," he said. Iran, did figure in the talks.

The meeting also added a new topic: best practices
regarding strategy development and capability based planning.
"I have every confidence that the Indians have an
excellent system to protect its technology..... The Indian
system of protecting technology is quite strong and robust,"
he said.

"As we do more cooperative work with India, both nations
deserve to know how each other protect technology. I think
that would be the key to figure out how we can do more
cooperative work together," he said.

Missile Defence System, he noted, did not come up during
the talks. "We have, as you know, had discussions many years
ago. had early discussions many years ago on missile defence
and even some table top gaming. But that really has fallen off
in recent years.

"It is something that we could certainly imagine
restarting those talks we desire, but frankly there are a lot
of other things that we are focused on with our relationship
with India, in my mind are more important right now," Scher
said.

"Honestly, I don`t know," he said why the missile defence
system has fallen off.

On India rejecting US companies for its multi-billion
deal, Scher said: "We were told by the Government of India
that the US, both F-16 and F-18, did not meet the technical
qualification that they laid out. "

The package the US put for this competition, he argued,
had a nearly unprecedented level of technology exchange and
release for these purposes.

"I think, what is good for the United States is that
India is a growing string nation and why it is good for us
that we share so many common interests? While, we do not
always have similar approaches, we all are trying to get to
the same direction.

"So for me, the advantage to the United States is that as
India grows and takes a larger role on the world stage... we
will be pursuing similar goals," Scher said.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, March 3, 2012 - 13:11

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