Talks Reaffirm Growing U.S.-India Partnership
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 2, 2012 Recent bilateral security talks between the United States and India reaffirmed the importance of the partnership between the two nations and the growing U.S. interest in advancing it, as reflected in the new defense strategic guidance, a senior official said today.
Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James N. Miller joined Indian Defense Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma in co-chairing the 12th annual U.S.-India Defense Policy Group dialogue in New Delhi Feb. 21 and 22.
The trip, Miller’s first since assuming his post, demonstrates the United States’ commitment to its relationship with India, Robert Scher, deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, said during a media roundtable.
Scher noted that India is the only country the new strategy guidance specifically identifies for increased engagement, reflecting the priority both President Barack Obama and the Defense Department place on the partnership.
The annual Defense Policy Group meetings aim to advance the two countries’ strategic defense relationship, enabling them to set priorities, take stock of progress and work through hurdles that stand in the way, Scher said.
The agenda focused on four basic areas: defense procurement and production, technical cooperation, military-to-military cooperation and technical security, he explained.
Miller and Sharma agreed to continue concentrating on maritime security cooperation, defense trade and developing new, cooperative research and development projects for the upcoming year, Scher said.
They also reiterated the importance of maintaining a “robust dialogue on technical security,” he said, and for the first time this year, exchanged best practices involving strategy developments and capabilities-based planning.
Both leaders expressed an interest in increasing personal interactions at all levels in their defense and military establishments through continued dialogue, exercises, personal exchanges and training associated with defense sales, Scher said.
While in India, Miller visited India’s national defense college, addressing students there and sharing with them the United States’ interest in advancing its partnership with India.
“The key theme was the need to build people-to-people ties,” Scher said. Miller recognizes, he said, that “it is really the next generation of U.S. and Indian defense leaders and officers who will determine whether we will succeed in realizing the full potential of the U.S.-Indian relationship.”
The dialogue reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-India defense relationship, Scher told reporters.
“There is genuine, positive sentiment on both sides and a real desire to grow the relationship in a positive direction,” he said. “A strong bilateral relationship is clearly in the U.S. interest and benefits both countries.”