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Aligned with India along shared goals: US

Author: TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 13, 2020
URL:      https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/aligned-with-india-along-shared-goals-us/articleshow/78629693.cms

India and US have entered a “fundamental alignment along shared security and geopolitical goals, shared interests, and shared values,” according to US deputy secretary of state Steve Biegun, who arrived here on Monday to prepare for the “2+2” meeting between the two countries later this month.

The Quad is increasingly the focus of the new alignment. Biegun said, “The Quad is a partnership driven by shared interests, not binding obligations, and is not intended to be an exclusive grouping. Any country that seeks a free and open Indo-Pacific and is willing to take steps to ensure that, should be welcome to work with us.”

Addressing the India-US Forum in New Delhi, the top US official said, “As the US assesses our own interests and how they intersect with India’s, we have seen the conditions emerge for an organic and deeper partnership—not an alliance on the postwar model, but a fundamental alignment along shared security and geopolitical goals, shared interests, and shared values.”

Biegun directly addressed the debate in India about retaining its “strategic autonomy” and about the “elephant” in the room, China.

“India has a strong and proud tradition of strategic autonomy, and we respect that. We do not seek to change India’s traditions. Rather we want to explore how to empower them and India’s ability to defend its own sovereignty and democracy and to advance Indian interests, across the Indo-Pacific region.”

His remarks showed a renewed US interest for a country like India which takes care of its own defence interests, a distinct difference from US’ traditional security allies like Australia, Japan, South Korea and others. President Donald Trump in particular, has been exhorting America’s traditional allies to take on greater responsibilities for their security.

Biegun addressed the reasons for the Quad fast emerging as the lynchpin of the Indo-Pacific strategies for many countries. “The United States and India represent multi-ethnic, multi-confessional, democratic societies. Together with Japan and Australia, we are four democratic anchors in an Indo-Pacific region buffeted by changing winds and shifting currents. We each have our imperfections, of course, and our own histories that steered our democratic paths, but we share values as well as common interests, and together our democracies represent the voices of a nearly a quarter of the world’s population.”

For India, the priorities post pandemic is in new age technologies and sectors like renewable energy and healthcare as well as resilient supply chains. For the present, defence and security cooperation dominates the India-US environment, not least because of the growing security threat China poses to India.

Biegun said, “The United States has already begun some of these efforts, including increased foreign military sales and intelligence sharing with India. But there is more that we can do, including strengthening India’s ability to defend itself and by promoting interoperability among our militaries through regular exercises and exchanges, common defence platforms, and co-development. The upcoming 2+2 ministerial meeting between secretary Pompeo and minister Jaishankar and their respective defence counterparts will be an excellent opportunity to explore next steps on some of these issues.”


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