India, US tango over Indo-Pacific regional security

Photo: US Secretary of Defence Dr Mark T. Esper and Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh during their bilateral meeting in Bangkok today.

Bangkok: India‘s vision for the Indo-Pacific region is increasingly converging with that of the United States to ensure a rules-based order and respect for territorial integrity of nations, Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh said today.

In his bilateral meeting with USA Secretary of Defence Dr Mark T. Esper here, Rajnath Singh said India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific region include a free and open, peaceful, prosperous and an inclusive region. The two leaders were meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus.

“There is growing convergence between India and USA in the Indo-Pacific region and India’s vision is for Indo-Pacific is for a free and open, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive region supported by a rules based order and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity,” India’s defence minister said.

ASEAN is central to India’s vision of Indo-Pacific. Both countries (India and US) are working together in the area of maritime security including elements such as joint exercises, HADR operations and Maritime Domain Awareness,” he said.

These remarks are an euphemism for both India and US being concerned over China‘s growing aggressiveness in South China Sea and its efforts at reclamation of island to expand its territorial claims in the region in the recent years.

In the recent years, Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Navy) warships have threatened both Indian and US warships navigating through the South China Sea on separate occasions and there is increasing uneasiness among the South East Asian nations such as Vietnam over China’s territorial claims.

Expressing happiness on the growing relationship between India and US, Rajnath Singh said the bilateral cooperation between the two sides has grown across a wide range of sectors including defence and security, economy, energy, counter terrorism and people-to-people ties.

The two ministers also had discussions on a number of other issues concerning regional security and bilateral defence cooperation.

Noting the importance both countries place on engagement with South East Asia, Esper highlighted opportunities to increase US-India collaboration across the region and reinforce commitment to a rules-based security architecture with ASEAN at its core.

The US defence secretary also welcomed the deepening security ties between India and the United States – including the first-ever US-India tri-service exercise last week, TIGER TRIUMPH.

Rajnath Singh and Esper stated that they looked forward to seeing each other and have substantial discussions during the US-India 2+2 ministerial dialogue at the State Department in Washington DC later this year.

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