'Military ties with India based on shared interests'
Ahead of Defence Minister AK Antony's crucial visit, the US says its military and security ties with India were "here to stay" as they were based on "shared interests".Updated: Sep 07, 2008, 14:28 IST
Ahead of Defence Minister A K Antony's crucial visit, the US on Sunday said its military and security ties with India were "here to stay" as they were based on "shared interests" and brushed off the notion that it was moving closer to New Delhi as a "counter weight" to China.
"It is a visit that is a part of a larger process of interaction" and was set up "very well in Secretary Robert Gates' visit to New Delhi at the end of February which by all accounts a very successful trip," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence, James Clad, told PTI.
Antony will be the first Indian minister to visit Washington after the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) granted the India-specific waiver on Saturday for nuclear commerce, giving the go-ahead for the implementation of the landmark Indo-US civil nuclear deal.
He is being accompanied by a "very broad spectrum of Indian senior military services interest and procurement" during his four-day visit beginning today but "it will be a mistake to regard the trip as a procurement trip," said the senior Pentagon official who overseas the Asia Pacific area, including India.
Noting that "the security relationship we have with India is one that is based on shared interests," he said "it may sound like a vague formulation of words but in the range of security cooperation India has with the outside world, it is with the United States that the interaction is most variegated."
"It stretches across the services, it involves interaction in exercises with the army, the Navy (Malabar is coming up again) and of course the Red Flag (Air Force) was highly successful. Our people in the Air Force are (at) awe with the Indian capability and this is the kind of steady progression," Clad maintained.
The senior Defence Department official brushed off the notion that the United States is moving closer to India as some kind of a "counter weight" to China or is involved in some kind of a "balancing" act.
"It is absolutely important to raise this question because I hear shallow so-called 'explanations' of India-US security relations based on a notion of some kind of Chinese bogeyman," Clad said.
"The first reason this is simple minded is because India would never allow itself to be used as some type of large piece on the Geopolitical chessboard. India makes its own security and geopolitical determinations, and its own engagement with China proceeds on well-reasoned grounds, as does ours."
As an emerging power, China requires continuing evaluation and assessment, he said. "As great powers, India and the United States must take account of capability trends in their neighbourhoods and in areas of strategic concern, and China's capabilities and intentions are a matter of interest to our allies, security partners and friends across the breadth of Asia -- and beyond."
"As someone who felt years ago that deepening security and defence ties between our two countries was inevitable, I'm glad to help reinforce these inevitable, irreversible trend lines. With India, we are rounding out security connections rather than planning to counter any particular country," Clad added.
"This sophisticated agenda is lightyears from some kind of crude anti-China line-up. The Secretary of Defence of the United States of America would be the very first person to reject such a formulation; under his stewardship we have continued and deepened policies of engagement with both major and minor countries, understanding that the net effect of this adds to our common international security."