New Delhi: The growing menace of cross-border terrorism and the situation in India’s neighbourhod were discussed in depth during delegation level talks bewtween India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the US Defence Secretary James Mattis here today (26 September 2017).
In a press statement after the Delegation level talks, the Indian Defence Minister said there is growing convergence in the approaches of both India and the US on the issue of cross-border terrorism. Both recognize recognize the importance of holding those who use terrorism as an instrument of state policy to account and to dismantle the infrastructure that supports terrorism, she emphasised.
The Defence Minister further said in her statement that India has welcomed the US President Donald Trump’s new US Strategy for Afghanistan announced last month. Today, she had useful discussions with Secretary Mattis on how the two countries could strengthen cooperation bilaterally as well as with the Government of Afghanistan in pursuit of the common objective of a peaceful, democratic, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
They also discussed the issues relating to maritime security in the Indian Ocean and the broader Asia-Pacific Region as well as regional connectivity issues.
India supports the freedom of navigation, over-flight and unimpeded lawful commerce. India also believes that disputes should be resolved through peaceful means and in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law. Underscoring this, the Indian Defence Minister informed the media that Secretary Mattis reaffirmed the US position in support of these principles. The Indian Minister has welcomed his reiteration of the US commitment to work with India in ensuring maritime security in the lndo Pacific and as first responder to HADR situations.
Ms. Sitharaman furthr said in her statement that India and the United States share a strong and vibrant strategic partnership. As the world’s largest democracies, we also share fundamental values and interests.
Defence cooperation between India and the US has grown significantly in recent years and emerged as a key pillar of our strategic partnership.
Military-to-military engagement between the two countries continues to grow. Both nations recently concluded the trilateral Malabar Naval Exercise in the Bay of Bengal along with Japan. This edition of Malabar demonstrated the progress made in operational synergies between our Navies. Even at prsent the Indian and US Armies were conducting their Exercise Yudh Abhyas.
The US is now a leading supplier of state-of-the-art defence equipment to India. Secretary Mattis shared willingness to share further cutting-edge platforms which would enhance India’s defence preparedness to meet current and emerging threats.
Secretary Mattis and Sitharaman also agreed to expand on the progress already made by encouraging co-production and co-development efforts. India’s deep interest in enhancing defence manufacturing in India under Prime Minister’s Make in India initiative was reiterated by Ms. Sitharaman at today’s meeting.
There was agreement on full implementation of the understanding reached following the announcement by the US last year recognizing India as a Major Defence Partner will provide further energy and momentum to our collaboration on defence technology and manufacturing.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the US Defence Secretary James Mattis also discussed how to refocus and re-energize the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) as a mechanism to promote technology sharing as well as co development and co-production efforts.