Biden administration wants to continue to deepen defence cooperation with India: US official
Bengaluru: The United States’ defence ties and cooperation with India will continue to deepen under President Joe Biden-led administration, a top ranking US official said on Tuesday, citing common interests.
“….the declaration of India as a major defence partner of United States was huge milestone, that was done under the previous administration and we want to continue to deepen our cooperation,” US Air Force Deputy Undersecretary, International Affairs, Kelli L Seybolt told reporters here.
Responding to a question about possible “changes” in defence ties with the new administration taking over in the US, she said her expectation is that the deepening of cooperation will only continue because “there is so much common interests in doing so, as we all look for secure and free Indo-Pacific”.
“So our expectation is that things will continue to grow in our defence ties and relationship, and we’ll work closer together….the good demonstration of that is- the Secretary of Defence Austin’s (Lloyd J Austin III) first call was to his counterpart in India (Defence Minister Rajnath Singh).
That speaks volumes..,” she added.
A high-level delegation of US government officials and defence industry representatives is taking part in the Aero India 2021, the country’s premier defence and aerospace exhibition, starting here from Wednesday.
Among the highlights of the show, a B-1B Lancer heavy bomber, of the 28th Bomb Wing based out of Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, will perform a “fly-by.”
US Charg d’Affaires Don Heflin, speaking about the defence cooperation between India and his country, said there is deepening of familiarity, compatibility and interoperability between the militaries of the two nations.
“The United States is a reliable partner to India’s defence sector offering the world’s best defence equipment.India plays a key role at the Indo-Pacific region and our cooperation advances our shared vision of a rules based international order that promotes prosperity and security of all the countries,” he said.
Responding to a question on “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India) and possible impact on sharing of critical technologies to Indian firms, Heflin said, India’s defence procurement is an issue for the Indian government to decide.
He said, “US recognises that India desires to produce more of its military equipment. We understand that, and look forward to a growing partnership in this effort, as this process unfolds, India will widely need to widely develop certain key capabilities, with careful use of outside procurements, to realise this ambition of a vibrant indigenous defence industrial sector.”
“Also, India-US defence partnership goes beyond defence manufacturing and trade, we have signed foundational defence agreements and our military is engaged in joint exercises such as ‘Tiger Triumph’ and ‘Malabar’,” he added.