New Delhi: A senior US government official said Wednesday that the United States will work closely with India in the Indian Ocean region to ensure the freedom and openness of the Indo-Pacific and enhance India’s operational capabilities in the face of increasing Chinese naval activities.
The PLA’s activities in areas ranging from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to the South China Sea and Indian Ocean fit a pattern of behavior aimed at undermining the rules-based order and attempting change, the official said on condition of anonymity.
At the same time, the US is focused on helping India modernize its military and support the country’s domestication agenda, as this fits in with US plans to help India’s armed forces break its reliance on Russian-origin equipment and platforms said the officer. These efforts will also lead to greater integration of the defense industries of both sides.
Although India’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine contradicted the responses of the other members of the security dialogue quad – Australia, Japan and the United States – the official made it clear that it would not pose a “major obstacle” to cooperation within the group .
“The operational environment in the Indian Ocean region is changing in part due to increased PLA activity. This is an area where we are interested in strengthening India’s capabilities and troop deployment capabilities and deepening our bilateral cooperation both operationally and in information sharing.”, the official said.
“When I look at what the People’s Liberation Army is doing in the Indian Ocean, what they’re doing in Latin America and the Caribbean, I see that it’s part of a pattern of behavior that’s related to what’s happening in the South China Sea, Taiwan Straits, the East China Sea — a country where you have the intention and ability to subvert a rules-based regime and seek to change the status quo through coercion.”
The United States also has concerns about the PLA’s facilities in third countries and its “ability to use economic and military tools for coercive purposes against countries in the region.” The official said the recently signed China-Solomon Islands secret security deal was “part of a pattern of behavior” and it was clear that the PLA was “looking for facilities overseas wherever they can get them and that includes South Asia.”
Describing the relationship with India as “one of the most important bilateral ties in the world” and one of the “most important” ties of the Biden administration, the official said the US side is very focused on helping India modernize its military and India to support . Localization of parties in armaments production.
The official noted that India’s resettlement agenda corresponds to a move away from Russian equipment, an “ongoing trend” and the US “will look for ways to support that agenda.”
India is facing increasing pressure from the United States over its ties with Russia following the Ukraine crisis. US Undersecretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, during a visit to New Delhi in March, hinted at providing Soviet-era equipment and parts to keep India away from Russian military equipment.
When asked specifically whether the differences in the Ukraine crisis will affect the Quartet’s work, the US official replied: “I don’t think this will be a major obstacle to cooperation in the Quartet. We recognize that India has a long relationship. and complex relations with Russia.”
“We also have a very broad relationship with India, where we work cross-divisionally on a number of issues. Of course, we don’t agree on all issues, but we communicate closely on this matter.”
The official also said the United States has not yet made a decision on the issue of secondary sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) over India’s $5.4 billion deal to acquire the S-400 air defense system from Russia .
The recent 2+2 meetings of defense and foreign ministers of India and the United States have given impetus to efforts to expand defense ties and work on the joint development and co-production of military technologies and platforms. Collaboration will also expand to new areas such as artificial intelligence, internet, aerospace and maritime awareness.
The project is being accelerated under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and there have been “very strong signals” from leadership on both sides to ensure progress, including bureaucratic constraints hampering technology transfer. The official said the US Office of Naval Research is looking at opportunities to hire experts and engineers in India to work with their peers on joint development and production.
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