Washington: The US is eager to help India become a world power which contributes to net security, a top American diplomat has said, indicating the President Donald Trump-led administration’s willingness to support New Delhi with ‘best-in-class’ defence capabilities.
US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun made the comments at the third India-US Leadership Summit organised virtually by the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) on Monday.
Beigun said the partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies has gone from strength to strength in the last two decades and that he expects the same to continue.
“We’re very eager to help India become and remain a world-class power in contributing (to) net security rather than worrying about net security and how it affects their interests. And I think defence cooperation is a key avenue for this, the diplomat said, responding to a question from former US Ambassador to India Richard Verma on whether the US can do more on defense cooperation, export controls and technology transfer.
A net security provider tackles security concerns of its own by forming partnerships with countries which have common goals. The term was coined in the context of India’s role in the Indian Ocean as a security provider for rule-based activity.
Biegun said one of the countervailing trends was India’s appropriate desire to be self-sufficient in defence. And I get that. No country wants to be entirely dependent on other parties. Even in a partnership as close as the United States and India, there are times in which that can be tested by other events in the regions or in the country, he said.
I understand that, but I think it can’t come at the exclusion of giving India the best-in-class defence capabilities, and I think India’s going to find a very willing and creative-thinking partner in the United States in the weeks and months ahead in that exact area, the top diplomat said.
Biegun said four US presidents and three Indian prime ministers — irrespective of their political persuasions — have invested in the US-India partnership over the last two decades.
They have been guided by the premise that a stronger relationship between the world’s largest and oldest democracies can promote prosperity and development for citizens, ensure sovereignty, combat terrorism, safeguard people, and ensure that the rules-based global order remains robust and resilient through the 21st century, he said.
Each one has succeeded in leaving the relationship in a better place for their successors, he said.
As the fulcrum of global geopolitics and economics shifts to the Indo-Pacific, our partnership with India has become all the more vital, Biegun said.
“Our relationship today spans the globe, covering everything from aircraft carriers and space exploration to energy security and the all-important domain of vaccine research. As with any close partnership, challenges do arise, but our track record has proven that through patience, dialogue, and a bit of good will, we can overcome any obstacle,” he said.
Former US president George Bush, under whose administration the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement was formed, had once once said “the United States and India, separated by half the globe, are closer than ever before, and the partnership between our free nations has the power to transform the world”, Biegun said.
“That still holds true today, and I am confident that the future beckons new milestones for our dynamic and growing partnership,” the diplomat said.