Terming India a “rising military power” and a “major defence partner”, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has said the country is destined to be America’s strategic partner in future as both the nations have a lot in common. “I believe it is an important stop because I believe India and the United States are destined to be strategic partners in the future. It is a large country, it’s a rising military power, it is a democracy with which we share many common values and approaches to the world,” Carter told reporters travelling with him to New Delhi from Japan on Wednesday.
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“The concourse between our peoples is very strong. We’re both multicultural societies, but nevertheless, hold together extremely well. So we have a lot in common, both strategically and in terms of who we are,” he said. Carter described India a “major defence partner” and the relationship between the two countries in recent years as strategic handshakes.
“This is a relationship that we’ve all watched for a long time, but it has grown by leaps and bounds just in the last few years, as measured by – I’m speaking now of the defence relationship – the pace of joint activities that we do between our two militaries, including exercises, which one of our largest programmes of exercises, their extension in scope, including two trilateral exercises as well as bilateral exercises,” he said.
He said there were a lot of projects that are underway under Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) where the two countries are working out technical and sometimes economic details of them. “I think one of the things I’ll be discussing with my Indian counterparts tomorrow is the major change we’re about to make in our export regulations as regards the status of India; a major defence partner,” he said.
The significance of that is, first of all, it’s unique to India. It permits the US to do things with India that have never been possible before. It creates a presumption of approval for transactions with India, he said. “We are encouraging India, and again, India has some desire to increase its pace of exercises. The extent to which those exercises are not just US-India exercise, but US-India-Japan exercises, US-India-Australia exercises, things that show that spreading of that network I have been talking about,” he added.