Skip to content

US can’t take its eyes off: US official on developments along India-China border

Along India’s frontier with China, the US remained “watchful” over developments as it cannot take its eyes off the regional security issues, a senior American official said on 2 November.

The Defence Attache at the US Embassy – Rear Admiral Michael L Baker – said this citing 29-month border standoff in eastern Ladakh that has significantly frayed ties between India and China.

He also said that it is important to be “mindful” of Chinese actions in the South China Sea as well, even as he described India-US defence ties as the “cornerstone” of the overall bilateral relations.

“I cannot speak in this forum on a real, detailed level about what we may or may not observe. But I will tell you that it is certainly an important area for us. We do remain watchful,” he said.

ALSO READ: China, Pakistan’s biggest financial support, will continue to fill Islamabad’s ‘begging bowl’

Asked whether the US has been tracking the developments along India’s border with China, the senior US official responded on how the US views the lingering conflict playing out in the coming months.

“We do work closely with India to exchange our views on this area to make sure that we have a clear understanding of what we think may be happening and I think it is a space that, for both India and the United States, we are going to remain watchful over time. We cannot take our eye off the regional security issues,” he said.

On China’s increasing military muscle flexing in the South China Sea, Rear Admiral Baker said it is important to assist countries across the region to have a choice of security partners.

“They have a very aggressive stance in the South China Sea. The United States has a pretty clear public position on this too. That’s something we need to be mindful and watchful of,” the senior defence official said.

He said the countries in the region could partner with someone like India or the US or both. “That is the key to ensuring that the Indo-Pacific remains free and open, which is the mutual goal for both India and the United States.”

Rear Admiral Baker said the robust defence trade, numerous high level dialogues and increasing number of military exercises in the sea, air and the land are further strengthening the defence relations between India and the US.

“I think we have a lot of trust between our countries and between our militaries. We conduct more exercises together in India than any other country. We operate together at sea routinely and these kinds of interactions deepen trust and familiarity everyday,” he said.

Rear Admiral Baker also noted that India and the US are carrying out joint maritime patrols and operating in the same operational space in the North Arabian Sea as well as in the Pacific.

“We know each other so well with a strong level of trust,” he added.

He did not give a direct reply when asked if the US was assisting India to deter China, but said, India has an “incredibly bright future” as it has “superb geography and high mountains” which are critical for defence.

He also mentioned India’s large landmass and access to the sea saying, “these are key elements for becoming a highly powerful country.”

On the situation in the Indian Ocean, he said China has been having a pretty continuous maritime presence in the region for at least a decade now.

“That’s been a pretty consistent presence,” he said.

Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.

The US designated India a “Major Defence Partner” paving way for sharing of critical military equipment and technology in June 2016. The two countries have also inked key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.

The two sides also signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 which provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.

In October 2020, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties.

The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries.

With PTI inputs.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint.
Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *