India and the US have agreed to enhance their maritime security cooperation, asserting safety of sea lanes of communication across the Indian Ocean is crucial for the economic growth for the entire region.
"One-fifth of the world’s energy supplies now travel across the Indian Ocean. The safety of the sea lanes of communication which criss-cross the Indian Ocean is crucial for the economic growth not just for India and the US but for the entire region," Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao said.
"Maritime trade routes in the Indian Ocean are vital for international commerce and global energy security and we have a shared interest in combating threats such as piracy. Therefore we have agreed to enhance our maritime security cooperation," Rao said in her remarks on 'Is there a future for the US-India partnership?' organized jointly by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Brookings Institute, a Washington-based eminent American think tank.
"For instance, we are working together with the US and the international community to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. Indian and US navies are enhancing their collaboration to deal with natural disasters building on the experience gained so far from the coordinated action," she said.
The diplomat said, "More broadly, our defense cooperation has grown significantly. The paradigm that we should visualize for defense cooperation should incorporate a strong component of joint production, research and co-development, which are all of strategic importance."
The safety of and access to the global commons - air, sea, space and cyber domains – is vital for continued prosperity of India, the US and the international community, Rao said.
"We have therefore decided to explore how we can work together and with other countries towards this objective. Increasingly, this aspect of the relationship requires intensified study and focus at the level of official and experts," she said.
The Indian ambassador said both India and the US have an increasing convergence of interests when it comes to ensuring peace, stability and security not just in Asia but in the world at large.
"Our mutual understanding on critical issues, including on global economic situation, terrorism, Afghanistan, regional challenges and Asian stability has become stronger. The frequency, quality and the range of our political dialogue on all regional and global issues have reached a new level," she said.
Noting that India's engagement with Asia-Pacific region has intensified over the last two decades, she said New Delhi's 'Look East' policy enunciated in the early 90s, is meant, at a fundamental level to reconnect and reach out in the civilizational space it share with its near neighbors in Southeast Asia, and catalyse the sharing of capacities and opportunities to improve the economic well-being of its peoples.
"Two decades later we have seen India’s quick integration with Southeast & East Asia at the strategic, political, economic, cultural and people-to-people levels. This region is witnessing rapid changes.
"Both India and the US have a shared interest in ensuring that peace, security and prosperity are maintained even amidst these fast paced changes," she said.
Rao added: "We have strengthened our strategic consultations on developments in Asia-Pacific and welcomed the entry of the US in the East Asia Summit to seek an open, inclusive and balanced regional architecture in the Asia Pacific region."