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Media Availability with Secretary Carter in Goa, India

April 11, 2016
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: Put all your recorders up and I'll try to speak into them.

PETER COOK: Everyone all set?

SEC. CARTER: Alrighty.

First of all, thank you all for being here. I appreciate it.

Today was my second visit here to India as secretary of defense. Obviously, in the course of many years have been here many times because I share the -- strongly, the intent of the leadership of the two countries and certainly the defense leadership of the two countries to strengthen our relationship.

Last time, I had the privilege of going to being the first American to go to the Indian Naval Base which is the principal base on the eastern side of the peninsula and now, here we are on the western side. I had the opportunity to be aboard that aircraft carrier which I'm sure you all are familiar with.

I spoke earlier in New York. I'm not going to go through all that again of why this relationship is so important to the United States. We say it's going to be one of the defining relationships of the 21st century and that is because both our values and our interests overlap in so many important ways. And that happens with few countries around the globe and India is one of those, and of course is a vast and influential and extremely important country. So we feel pleased to have a partnership with it as the United States.

I talked about there in New York as well about the two handshakes. Our rebalance in India is (inaudible), signifying our increasing cooperation in many defense areas, including maritime security, which the visit right now and the vessel we're aboard signifies. And also, our Defense Trade and Technology Initiative, DTTI, and Made in India which is Prime Minister Modi's policy, technology policy and technology sharing.

And just to get to the meeting of the two places that we have been to today. For the aircraft carrier in addition to signifying the increasing capabilities of the Indian Navy, we are working with the Indian Navy on the technology for their next generation of aircraft carriers. This one has a ramp on it and is a jump jet design. They would like to migrate to a flat deck design which has some advantages in terms of weight or aircraft and payload that it can accommodate and so forth.

That requires a catapult kind of technology. That's something we've operated in our navy for sometime. So we have some experience and knowledge about that in this area. We are more than willing to share it with India, which is an example of our -- really the way in which we cooperate with Indian technology, sharing like we do with a few other countries in the world.

This vessel right here that we're aboard, the USS Blue Ridge, is here for a port call in India, but also has participated in a number of cooperative activities in the maritime security domain with the Indian Navy. And of course, there are exercises like Malabar that India participates in as we do.

India aims to be, as the United States does, but this is their phrase, a net exporter of security to this region. And we certainly support that and would like to work with them wherever they would like to work with us. And that's in an increasing number of ways.

So, being aboard this flagship here with the minister, with the admiral who commands the U.S. Navy for this entire region, we're going to be able to get some more perspective, but also some more ideas of things that we might do together.

So, that's the meeting of two ships. And with that, let me get to the important part, which is your questions.

Peter, you're the impresario here.

MR. COOK: Yes, you had a question?

Q: Mr. Secretary, I know that a couple of other people have questions about India and China. So, if I could just (inaudible), so I’m going to ask you about another region. Secretary Kerry, as you know, was in Iraq and Afghanistan. Particularly in Iraq and he expressed some concerns in Iraq about the government and the ongoing of the little of the government to battle corruption, et cetera.

Are you concerned about any of those political issues hampering the military campaign as it goes forward? And do you see -- are you getting closer on the accelerants? Do you -- is that thing solved?

SEC. CARTER: Well, the success of the campaign against ISIL in Iraq does depend upon political and economic progress as well. So, it's important that we continue to support and we have been supporting Prime Minister Abadi as the leader of the entire country, to what that is -- to use his word, decentralized.

Multi-sectarian in other words. That's the challenge in Iraq. And that is a necessary political part of the healing that will take place after ISIL is destroyed and the country is given back to its own people. And economically, its important that the destruction that's occurred be repaired, and we're looking to -- their -- we're looking to help the Iraqis with that.

And I know that Secretary Kerry was discussing our efforts with the prime minister. But that's a global effort in which many countries can make a contribution. And I believe that will be one of the things that the president will want to raise with the Gulf partners, when he meets with them at the end of next week.

Their ability to participate has been an economic issue.

And then their issues having to do with oil and the price of oil. And so, it makes you a partner for the Iraqi government. So I -- my -- I -- my direction was that Secretary Kerry was discussing with Prime Minister Abadi, all of the things that I'm sure are on the prime minister's mind and that we all know are necessary to making the defeat of ISIL stick and be sustainable.

Q: But will they -- the delay of the accelerants?

SEC. CARTER: No. We're going to -- no. We're going to accelerate the military campaign as fast as we can. There's no question that some of them depend upon political cohesion and progress in Baghdad. But also Erbil. But, we're moving as fast as we can on the military campaign.

MR. COOK: June and then we'll go to the Indian press.

SEC. CARTER: Sure.

Q: Secretary Carter, some of the technological cooperation that you said that America would like to see in India, can't happen without the signing of these three foundational defense agreements. Do you think during this trip, you will move forward with one of them, say, with any of these agreements?

SEC. CARTER: I -- we'll see tomorrow. We're -- we'll be discussing all day with the Indian government. I do expect progress tomorrow in many areas of the DTTI. And we'll just have to see, as far as the agreement. The agreements are very important. There's much we can do without the agreements, but there is much more that we can do with the agreements. And so there they are important and stay tuned for tomorrow.

MR. COOK: Question from the Indian press.

Q: What do you carry from your visit to Goa? From your first visit to Goa, what do you carry with you?

SEC. CARTER: Well, this is obviously a famous place, that it's actually growing in fame, because it's very beautiful. It's been, if I may say so, it's by international reputation, very well governed. The green aspects are very attractive. The way the beaches are kept. And so, I say that in part because my good friend, Minister Parrikar, used to be the governor down here.

And from looking around, he obviously did a good job as what people told me. It's also a hub of innovation in India. And, as you probably know, innovation has obviously something that has been an important part of American life, but also very important to us in the Defense Department.

And the human connection between the American technological community and the Indian technological community is amazing. So many of the innovators are the Americans scene are Indians, or Indian Americans. It's very impressive.

So, we have a lot. It's one of the ways in which we culturally and just generally have many things in common. Strategically, it's important and I'm -- because it is the place where the -- India, if it's a net supplier of security in this region, supplies it westward through the subcontinent. And they were grateful -- or sorry, not grateful. They were willing to host me here and see the impressive naval capability.

That naval base that I was at first morning is basically built from scratch in the last 20 years. And it's impressive in every way, right down to the green aspect of it, which they give me an opportunity to see. But to the things that are obviously really important, like the quarters for sailors and officers and so on. It's really nice.

So obviously, the United States, as I indicated, with DDTI, that is -- has given -- let it -- has -- is helping India get all the capability that it can as an exporter of -- or net supplier of security. We think that's a good thing. We think all countries ought to be that. And we're going to help the Indian people.

MR. COOK: Tara, and then one more from the Indian side.

SEC. CARTER: Hi Tara.

Q: Mr. Secretary. India said that one of its top security concerns is China and is part of the reason that it's trying to grow its fleet 166 ships or so. Can you put this visit in context of being a counterweight to China's aggression in the South China Sea and its rise in the Pacific region?

SEC. CARTER: Well, the United States -- just to be clear about it -- I can't speak for India. But the United States' approach to this region is not to exclude or confront. It is to do what we've been doing for 70 years, which is to knit people together and to help keep the peace and stability that has allowed the economic miracle and social miracle that you see in modern India and in modern China. You asked about China. But Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, of these, all of these decades to occur.

So that's the American approach. I can't speak to the Indian approach, but I think India's long had an independent, strategic perspective. And we respect that. And I think that their policy is one that I described earlier and that they described to me is being a net supplier of security in the region.

And that is very compatible with our policy, which is an inclusive one, not an exclusive one. And one that is, you know, is based on principles and rule of law and the idea that everyone, everyone should rise.

MR. COOK: Sir, you've got one last question over here.

Q: There have been news reports or -- (inaudible) -- to India, so that then, it's flying into Pakistan -- (inaudible). Is it true that they have?

SEC. CARTER: We did not -- the question was about unmanned aircraft. That we -- first of all, our efforts, we're open to lots of different kinds of efforts with India. That was not a subject -- that subject had been raised specifically with the -- with Minister Parrikar. And you know, more generally, the United States policy and its approach to India is about India and its role in the region. It's not about any particular one of India's neighbors.

As I said the other day, it's long in the past that the United States has considered its India policy, either with respect to Pakistan or what used to be the Soviet Union, or a lot of these old ways. We have a relationship with India that reflect today's world. And today's American way of thinking, as well as India's way of thinking.

MR. COOK: All right. Thanks very much.

Q: About the United States.

MR. COOK: We're going to -- he's going to talk to the troops right now. We'll catch up later.

SEC. CARTER: Thanks, everybody. Really appreciate it.