Describing the US-India defence ties as "strong and growing," a top US official has told lawmakers that the civil nuclear deal between the two countries would lead to increased defence trade.
"The civil-nuclear cooperation agreement was a landmark agreement that significantly transformed the US-India bilateral relationship," Mark Lippert said during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination as the Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.
"The agreement has also deepened the level of trust between the United States and India that will have positive effects on DoD interests and will hopefully lead to greater military-to-military cooperation and increased defense trade," he said.
If confirmed, Lippert said he believe US priorities for this relationship should be focused on increasing maritime security cooperation, expanding the military-to-military ties and deepening cooperation on defence trade and production.
"Additionally, I believe there is potential for cooperating on counter-proliferation, collaborating on humanitarian assistance and disaster response, dealing with piracy, cooperating on counter-terrorism, greater intelligence sharing on common threats, and working towards stability in Afghanistan and the broader Indian Ocean region," he said.
Observing that a close and continuing security relationship with India will be important for security in Asia and for effectively managing Indian Ocean security in the 21st century, Lippert said the US and India have a range of common security interests that include maritime security, counter-terrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
"Over the past decade, there has been a rapid transformation in the US-India defence relationship. What was once a nascent relationship between unfamiliar nations has now evolved into a strategic partnership between two of the preeminent security powers in Asia," Lippert said. "Today, US-India defense ties are strong and growing.
Our defence relationship involves a robust slate of dialogues, military exercises, defense trade, personnel exchanges, and armaments cooperation. Efforts over the past ten years have focused on relationship-building and establishing the foundation for a long-term partnership. "The strong ties between our two militaries reflect this," he said, adding that the US remains committed to a broad defence trade relationship that enables transfers of some of their most advanced technologies.
Responding to questions on Indo-Pak relationship, Lippert said it good to see both nations make progress on outstanding issues. In early November, Pakistan's Cabinet approved extending Most Favored Nation trade status to India. Subsequently, India and Pakistan's Prime Ministers met on the sidelines of the recent South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in the Maldives, where they heralded a "new chapter" in their relationship. "I understand there will be talks soon on nuclear and conventional confidence-building measures, which will be critically important. I am pleased that both nations continue to engage with each other, and I am hopeful that confidence building measures are able to take root to promote a greater level of trust between the two countries," he said.