US looking for strategic partnerships with India: Locklear

The US is looking for a long-term strategic partnerships with India as it has a tremendous capability to be a security guarantor in South Asia.

Washington: The US is looking for a long-term strategic partnerships with India as it has a tremendous capability to be a security guarantor in South Asia, but America`s ties with Pakistan poses challenge to the bilateral relations, a top American military leader said on Tuesday.

"While US-Indian relations remain on an upward trajectory, we recognise there are impediments that must be overcome in the relationship. Process issues in the Indian bureaucracy and Indian concerns about US-Pakistan relations are examples of challenges to achieving the strategic partnership we seek," Admiral Sameul J Locklear, Commander of the US pacific Command said during a Congressional hearing.

"The Deputy US Secretary of Defence Carter`s India Defense Trade Initiative, however, has great potential to overcome much of the inertia and institutional red tape that has hampered our ability to expand cooperation," Locklear said in his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.

Responding to questions from lawmakers, Locklear said the US continues to look for partnerships beyond its alliances.

"As you know, we`re looking for a long term strategic partnerships with India. So I`ve been to India and we begin this dialogue. India has a tremendous capability to be a security guarantor in their part of the world, in the Indian Ocean, and we welcome that," Locklear said.

Even though "progress is incremental", the Pacific Command continues to reinforce our desire for, and commitment to an expanded relationship that promotes a secure and stable South Asia, he noted.

Observing that the US-India relationship is the strongest it has been since India gained its independence in 1947, Locklear said a strengthened US-India strategic partnership is imperative to achieve US national interests including ensuring regional security, strengthening the international trading system, protecting shared domains, countering terrorism, and bolstering international non-proliferation.

"We remain India`s most frequent partner for security engagements. Our defence relationship is built around a robust programme of dialogues and engagements, military exercises, personnel exchanges and defense trade, which has grown from USD 0 to USD 9 billion dollars in less than a decade.

"The Indians now operate a fleet of six C-130J cargo aircraft; they have taken delivery of their first of eight P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and their first of ten C-17 Strategic Airlifters," he said.

"Our relationship with India has room to grow, and we are optimistic and enthusiastic about its potential. India`s legacy of non-alignment and commitment to a policy of "strategic autonomy" is often viewed as limiting the relationship.

"However, our shared values and commitment to democratic principles inevitably place us on parallel, if independent paths. Several of these parallel interests include cooperating in multilateral forums which address," the PACOM Commander said.


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