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For US, partnership with India ‘most consequential’ of 21st century

For US, partnership with India ‘most consequential’ of 21st century

Partnership with India could be the "most consequential of the 21st century," United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said ahead of the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue between the two countries in New Delhi next week. The defence chief and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would be travelling to India to hold talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to hold third such meeting with India since 2018 which Esper said "reflect our nations' ever-increasing convergence on the strategic issues of our time."

The former US Army officer was speaking at an event held by Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan organization that galvanizes US leadership and engagement in the world, in partnership with allies and partners, to shape solutions to global challenges.

"Last year, we conducted our first-ever tri-service military exercise—Tiger Triumph—with India. And in July, the USS Nimitz conducted a combined exercise with the Indian Navy as it transited the Indian Ocean. We also held our first ever US-India defense cyber dialogue in September, as we expand our collaboration into new domains. Together, these efforts will strengthen what may become one of the most consequential partnerships of the 21st century," said Esper.

<img class="wp-image-18252 size-large" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Partnership-with-India-most-consequential-United-States-Secretary-of-Defense-Mark-Esper-1024×683.jpg" alt="India-US partnership Mark Esper" width="1024" height="683" /> United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has said that partnership with India would be ‘most consequential’ of 21st century (IANS)

Strengthening ties with "large like-minded democracies such as India'' is part of the Donald Trump administration's massive exercise of bolstering strategic relationships with 'like-minded' nations and deepening cooperation with 'loyal' partners. The Pentagon chief has conducted over 200 meetings with foreign partners from over 60 countries across the globe and travelled to six countries in the last one month besides meeting defence ministers of eight countries from Europe and Asia and conducting calls with another six, as well as NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg.

Esper said that the global constellation of allies and partners that the US has managed remains an enduring strength which its competitors and adversaries simply cannot match.

"In fact, China and Russia probably have fewer than 10 allies combined. However, our ability to maintain this advantage is not preordained, nor can we take our longstanding network of relationships for granted," he said.

The resolve was made stronger at the Quad meeting of four Indo-Pacific nations foreign ministers in Tokyo earlier this month. Next month, the quartet of India, US, Australia and Japan will participate in Malabar naval exercise to further strengthen the military cooperation and contain the rising Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean.

Esper commented that America's network of allies and partners has been forged through the fires of combat and shared sacrifice even as China, through its One Belt-One Road Initiative, continues to expand its financial ties across Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas, with the ulterior motive of gaining strategic influence, access to key resources, and military footholds around the world.

"In fact, the smaller the nation and the greater its needs, the heavier the pressure from Beijing. For example, Belt and Road Investments have created unhealthy economic dependencies in Burma, and they have pushed Laos into an unsustainable debt burden. In Cambodia, China has received generous land entitlements to construct ports, airfields, and associated infrastructure that could be used for military purposes to extend Beijing’s strategic reach. Helping other nations resist aggressive military posturing, financial entrapments, and other forms of coercion will require us to break from business as usual."

As a supplementary tool to counter the Chinese aggression, the US is also delivering excess defense articles to partners in the Indo-Pacific region, revealed Esper.

This not only includes providing Vietnam with an additional high-endurance coast guard cutter for enhanced maritime security in the South China Sea but also F-35 aircraft to Japan, Seahawk and Apache helicopters to India, and F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan..