“I have never been more optimistic regarding the future possibilities of the India-U.S. relationship,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun at the U.S.-India forum.
The U.S.-India relationship covers many areas, including among others, defense and security cooperation, mutual law enforcement support, trade and investment ties, energy partnership, and scientific and technological collaboration. Of particular significance, are the joint efforts by American and Indian universities and companies to conduct coronavirus vaccine trials.
Deputy Secretary Biegun expressed the need for updated security alliances in the Indo-Pacific region. “The United States cannot assume that a global post-WWII alliance structure, designed to address the challenges and threats of the Cold War, can endure without rejuvenation,” said Deputy Secretary Biegun. “To sustain the free and open order, our strategic relationships need to reflect the geopolitical realities of today and tomorrow.”
Under an updated security partnership, nations like “India wouldseek to provide for their own defense,” explained Deputy Secretary Biegun. In this context, the United States is looking for ways to empower India’s ability to defend its own sovereignty and democracy and to advance Indian interests, across the Indo-Pacific region.
The United States and India, together with Japan and Australia, are four democratic anchors in an Indo-Pacific, sharing values as well as common interests. “Together, we stand for a pluralistic vision that will ensure that our countries, and all the region’s diverse countries, can thrive as sovereign and prosperous nations in a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Deputy Secretary Biegun.
But he warned that “this vision is not a foregone conclusion,” in light of China’s aggressive tactics in the region. The threat posed by China “will require cooperation — bilaterally (with India) and with others — to build up the security of nations in the Indo-Pacific,” said Deputy Secretary Biegun.
The United States has already begun to increase foreign military sales and intelligence sharing with India. But there is more to be done, including strengthening India’s ability to defend itself by promoting interoperability among both militaries through regular exercises and exchanges, common defense platforms, and co-development.
“Our two nations are destined for great things,” declared Deputy Secretary Biegun. “It is up to us to accelerate the momentum.”