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Joint Press Conference with Secretary Carter and Minister Parrikar in New Delhi, India

April 12, 2016

 

 

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER:  Well, thank you, Mr. Minister Parrikar, and more about you in one moment.

 

Good afternoon, everyone else.  Before I begin and talk about the many subjects of our discussions here, let me just take a moment to express my condolences on behalf of the men and women of the United States Department of Defense, but really all Americans, over the tragic fire in Puttingal in southern India.  Our hearts go out to those lost, and to their families.

 

This is my second visit to India in the last year as secretary of defense, but I've been here many times over many years.  I've never been more optimistic about this relationship, nor more committed to its progress.

 

I'd like to thank Minister Parrikar for hosting me in Goa on Sunday and Monday.  I'm honored by his hospitality.  And I want to thank him for what has been a very productive visit, as his statement indicated.  There's no counterpart of mine anywhere in the world I have spent more time with than him.

 

And Minister Parrikar is a strong leader, a great manager, and a wonderful partner and friend.

 

I also look forward later today to visiting with Prime Minister Modi, who has a tremendous vision for India's future and its role in the world; as well as National Security Adviser Doval and Foreign Secretary Jaishankar. 

 

The U.S.-India relationship is destined to be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.  And that destiny is rapidly and surely become a reality.  First, we have what I call a strategic handshake, as the United States is reaching west in its rebalance, India is reaching east in Prime Minister Modi's Act East policy that will extend its reach further in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. 

 

The joint strategic vision statement and the 2015 framework for the U.S.-India defense relationship provide the foundation and guidance for our work together to promote and defend the principles, including peaceful resolution of disputes, countries being able to make their own security and economic choices, free from coercion and intimidation; and freedom of navigation and overflight that have helped so many in this region to rise and to prosper for so many years.

 

And there's another handshake between our countries as well -- a technological one.  In 2012, the United States and India created the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, DTTI, to leverage the convergence between our industrial and technological inabilities in an unprecedented way.  That initiative grasps hands with Prime Minister Modi's Make in India campaign.

 

There's so much potential here, which is why we're seizing every opportunity we can.  This week, we made great progress and we continue to work towards greater and unprecedented cooperation in a field of cutting-edge defense technology.

 

We agreed to initiate two new DTTI Pathfinder co-development projects, one on digital helmet mounted displays, and another one on a joint biological tactical detection system, adding to a growing list of initiatives.  Under DTTI, the Aircraft Carrier Working Group has been a success, and we're deepening our consultation in aircraft carrier design and operations.

 

And I got a little insight into that yesterday when I had the opportunity to go down and visit the spectacular aircraft carrier of India down on the western sea.  We're similarly collaborating science and technology in new and innovative ways.  We are finalizing four such government-to-government projects valued at almost $44 million, an investment shared equally by our governments.

 

These include a project on atmospheric sciences for high-energy lasers; another on cognitive tools for target detection; a third on small intelligent unmanned aerial systems; and a project on blast and blunt trauma, brain injury.

 

And outside of DTTI, we share two co-production proposals to bolster India's suite of fighter aircraft.  Finally, as our strategic and technological interests have drawn together, so have our military ties.  Yesterday, as I mentioned, I visited a naval base on India's west coast and an Indian aircraft carrier there.  It is an impressive capability, and the Indian military is right to be proud of it.

 

There, I saw and heard about many of the good things the Indian military is doing.  India is clearly a net security provider in this vitally important region.  We discussed many new things we can do together, particularly in the maritime area.  We're going to do more complex exercises together.  And we decided this week to launch a bilateral maritime security dialogue, as has been noted, to guide our cooperation on this front, that will be chaired at the assistant secretary, joint secretary level.

 

Of course, we're also operating together by air, land and sea, collaborating on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and maritime security.  And today, we agreed in principle to share and exchange logistics, as has already been noted, which will allow us to do even more.  We also agreed soon to conclude a commercial shipping information agreement to help our navies work together to defend our countries and promote and protect global commerce.

 

As we stand here, our two countries and our two militaries are closer than they have ever been, brought together by shared values, mutual interests and a promising destiny.  We're living in a time of great change in the region and the world.  The United States is working and networking security with India and nations around the Asia-Pacific to ensure continued stability and security.

 

Now, more than ever, the strategic handshake and partnership between the United States and India will continue to benefit each of our nations, the greater Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean areas, and the entire world.

 

Thank you all, and thank you very much, my friend, Minister Parrikar.

 

Q:  -- (inaudible) --

 

SEC. CARTER:  You're first?

 

DEFENSE MINISTER MANOHAR PARRIKAR:  -- (inaudible) --

 

SEC. CARTER:  I'll just second that.  You'll see in the agreement, nobody's talking about U.S. troops on Indian soil.  That's not the point.  The point is logistics, that is to be able to, to have the capability which would have to be decided and agreed by both governments in the case of, for example, another earthquake in Nepal.

 

This makes it easier for us to work together when a situation arises where that's desirable.  And logistics is a very important part of operations.  But that's what it's -- that's what it's directed at, and again, it will be a case-by-case basis for the application of it, but it gives us the capability to do things like refuel ships and so forth in a way that's agreed upon.  You don't have to reach new agreement every time you have an exercise.  That's really what it's about.

 

Q:  -- (inaudible) --

 

SEC. CARTER:  Well, we are staunchly supportive of India's counterterrorism efforts and strongly condemn terrorism emanating from anywhere in India.  And those who do it should be brought to justice and brought to account.  That's the American position and there's no question about that at all. 

 

And I guess one thing I could add is the more we work with Indian military on projects of the kind we discussed today, many of them are technologies that will help protect our two societies from terrorism.  So there is something of a link there.  But the American position on terrorism affecting India is clear and unequivocal.

 

STAFF:  (off mic).

 

Q:  Hi, Secretary Carter.  Question for you and -- (inaudible) -- militaries.  What -- (inaudible)?  And when -- when will this -- (inaudible)? 

 

And Mr. Parrikar, for you, India and -- (inaudible).  Can you (point ?) to (specific ?) -- (inaudible)?

 

SEC. CARTER:  So what the agreement does is make -- it'll make it more routine and automatic for us to be able to operate together and work together logistically.  That may sound -- that's a -- it may sound like something that ought to be automatic, but it's not.  You actually have to agree how you're going to do that, and that's what this agreement provides.  It means we don't have to deal with each exercise separately.  We have a regular way of doing these logistic things.

 

And what it means in agreement principle is all the issues are resolved, and now we're -- they're going to finalize the text and -- for the two governments, and then -- and then sign them.  But that's what the agreement in principle means.  We basically -- the issues are resolved and we both have defined the scope, the purposes and the way the agreement would work, and now (inaudible) put into final words.  That's what it means.

 

Q:  When do you think that will come --

 

SEC. CARTER:  I think in the coming weeks.  It's a matter of when the crank turns here in both capitals -- (inaudible) --

 

MIN. PARRIKAR:  (Inaudible) -- Secretary -- (inaudible) -- with which to -- (inaudible) -- two weeks, maybe four weeks.  I don't -- (inaudible).

 

More of a (inaudible) to each other's platforms and not (inaudible).  So -- (inaudible) -- military -- (inaudible).  The ship -- (inaudible).  (Inaudible).

 

STAFF:  (off mic).

 

Q:  (off mic).

 

MIN. PARRIKAR:  Aircraft carrier group -- (inaudible) -- technology and -- (inaudible) -- step towards -- (inaudible).  Maybe one or two more meetings -- (inaudible).

 

SEC. CARTER:  I think if I can -- if I can answer that, June, the point is -- I'll just add one little fact that I've been -- had the opportunity to visit the Indian carrier yesterday, which has a jump slope and India will be making aircraft carriers next in its future which would have a flat deck, which has some advantages if you make it somewhat longer.  But -- and the United States has some experience in that going back in time, and so -- and we just developed a new generation of aircraft carriers for ourselves.

 

And so the idea is that that's an area where we can help a friend who is doing something that we think is not only good for India, but good for international security, and we have some experience that could be helpful.  And then there are cases where we're learning from Indian experience.  That's the good thing about a partnership.

 

Q:  (Inaudible) -- Secretary Carter.  So looking at the -- (inaudible). (inaudible)?  Or do you just -- (inaudible)?  So are you -- are you really -- (inaudible)?

 

SEC. CARTER:  I'm sorry.  Could you repeat the last part?  I got the first part of it.

 

Q:  I said -- (inaudible) -- to Pakistan, which is -- (inaudible).  So -- (inaudible) -- and -- (inaudible)?

 

SEC. CARTER:  Well, I mean, first of all, we do aim to be and try to be a trusted partner of India, and that is why we -- some of those technology agreements I described to you are unique to India and we don't have arrangements like that with anyone else around the world.  And most of our technology sharing arrangements are -- with India are at the level -- above the level of our oldest and closest friends going back years, for example the United Kingdom.  So we have a very close relationship with India and we have complete trust.

 

And you're right.  India also has relationships with other countries, including Russia.  In fact, historically, a very strong relationship with Russia, and we respect that, and they have a lot of Russian systems and so forth and we work together to work around that -- that fact.  And -- so we recognize that completely.

 

With respect to Pakistan, we are -- I just want to say that from the U.S. point of view, our overall policy towards India is completely different from the way it was decades ago.  It's a thing of the past for us to think about India only in relation to Pakistan or Pakistan only in relation to India.  That's in the distant past for us.  We have a different vision of India, I described it, one of a defining partnership of the 21st century in which all sorts of things are going to be possible in the future and we share many interests.

 

With respect to Pakistan, we also have a relationship with Pakistan, which we value and which we pursue also in our own interests.  Our -- and we have no interest in conflict between India and Pakistan or in -- in any way encouraging any such thing.  And what we do with Pakistan is principally directed towards counterterrorism, and that includes things we do with the Pakistani military.  That's our principal concern -- security concern and our principal security interest in working with Pakistan is terrorism.

 

Now, I think that's a concern that India shares as well, that is terrorism originating from Pakistan, and that is what our cooperation with them principally is intended to forestall, because we too have suffered from terrorism emanating from the territory of Pakistan, more specifically in Afghanistan.  And so we -- that's a principal objective of ours with respect to Pakistan, but we don't -- it's -- we don't think of the two as -- as two sides of the same coin.  That hasn't been true for decades now for American policy -- (inaudible) -- a big different country that's a big partner of ours in the 21st century, so -- (inaudible) -- a very different thing.

 

Q:  (Inaudible) -- of the F-16s.  How does the F-16s -- (inaudible)?

 

SEC. CARTER:  Pakistan has used F-16s in its operations in the FATA and we approve of those operations in the FATA to the extent that they're going after terrorism in the -- on the territory of Pakistan, but that's the -- counterterrorism is the only purpose for which our equipment is intended.  But it's a very important purpose because we take terrorism emanating from Pakistan very, very seriously, and where we can cooperate with Pakistan in that regard, we do.

 

STAFF:  Last question -- (inaudible).

 

Q:  I have a question for -- (inaudible).  (Inaudible)

 

This is a question for Secretary Carter.  Do you (support) -- (inaudible) -- and -- (inaudible)?

 

SEC. CARTER:  Well, we haven't been discussing joint patrols.  We have just been discussing other kinds of cooperative maritime activities.  And I did -- I think I just caught the basic -- the very end of your question where you were asking about Japan. 

 

We -- there have been, and we -- I think they're very constructive -- joint exercise of the United States and India and Japan together, which is a very -- been a very powerful and very useful combination.

 

With respect to the South China Sea issue more broadly, I'll just say that the American position there, I think we've stated many times.  There -- we are strongly behind freedom of navigation and the continuation of a system of peaceful resolution of disputes, including these long-standing territorial disputes in the South China Sea. 

 

We, for our part, will sail, fly and operate wherever international law allows, but we try to work with other countries to resolve these things peacefully.  Our -- we weren't discussing, in the context of this particular meeting, the South China Sea or any other particular place specifically.  We have a lot of operations with India throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, and obviously, we do with Japan as well.

 

Q:  (Inaudible) -- question.  (Inaudible). (inaudible) -- U.S. -- (inaudible) -- in (inaudible).  He -- (inaudible).  Does India -- (inaudible)?

 

MIN. PARRIKAR:  (Inaudible) -- South China Sea -- (inaudible).  And what we have agreed -- (inaudible).  India will -- (inaudible) -- future -- (inaudible).

 

(Inaudible) -- we will not be (inaudible) on this issue, so -- (inaudible).

 

STAFF:  (off mic).

 

MIN. PARRIKAR:  (Inaudible) -- joint statement.

 

(crosstalk.)

 

SEC. CARTER:  No, I know.

 

-END-