The defense partnership between the United States and India will become an anchor of global security, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today in a joint news conference with Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Following a meeting between the defense leaders, Carter said Parrikar’s first official visit to the Pentagon is a sign of the growing strength of the defense ties between the two democracies.
The two leaders in June signed the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, which Carter described as a framework that charts a course for the U.S.-India relationship for the next decade, fosters technology cooperation, works to build industry-to-industry ties and identifies opportunities for the co-development and co-production of defense systems.
“For instance,” Carter said, “today, Minister Parrikar and I discussed the progress that’s been made toward cooperation on jet engines and aircraft carrier design and construction [and] opportunities to collaborate on additional projects of interest.”
The growing strategic partnership between the United States and India is rooted in shared ideals, mutual interests and a spirit of innovation, the secretary said.
Joint Military Exercises Vital
The secretary said he and Parrikar also discussed the importance of India’s participation in U.S. military exercises such as Malabar, Rim of the Pacific, and for the first time in eight years for India, participation in Red Flag, which Carter called “the premier air-to-air combat exercise.”
As the first U.S. defense secretary to visit an operational military command in India -- the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam -- Carter emphasized that Parrikar also became the first Indian defense minister to visit U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii and meet senior military leaders there on his way to Washington.
The defense partnership between India and the United States “reflects shared values and interests,” Parrikar said.
‘Relationship is Stronger’
“Defense and security cooperation is a vital component of this partnership,” he said. “Our relationship has grown stronger.”
The Indian defense minister also called for international response in the realm of terrorism.
“Terrorism has become a global phenomenon, and requires a comprehensive response,” he said. “All affiliations must be countered without any differentiation.”
Parrikar said he looks forward to working with Carter to “further expand and deepen our defense relationship [between] the two great democracies.”
Later today, the defense leaders will observe live flight exercises aboard the USS Eisenhower. Carter said it will mark the first time an Indian defense minister has boarded a U.S. aircraft carrier. This speaks not only to aircraft carrier technology cooperation between the two nations, he said, “but also to expanding cooperation in maritime security.
“As we work toward a common future … between the United States and India, … this is a relationship that will be critical in strengthening the Indo-Asia-Pacific security architecture so that everyone there can continue to rise and prosper.”