The United States Secretary of Defence Mark Esper on Tuesday, 27 November, said that the country stood shoulder-to-shoulder in support with India, in the light of “increasing aggression” by China.
“Based on our shared values and common interests, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, particularly in light of increasing aggression and destabilising activities by China,” Esper said after the two countries signed the crucial Indo-US Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, too, said that his country will stand with India.
“We visited National War Memorial to honour brave men and women of Indian Armed Forces who sacrificed for the world's largest democracy – including 20 killed by PLA in Galwan Valley. US will stand with India as they confront threats to their sovereignty, liberty,” Pompeo added.
He added that US valved multi-lateral partnership with India – whether it's through the quad, making Afghan peace negotiation successful or working together during India's upcoming term on UN security council.
“We continue to support India's permanent membership of UNSC,” he said.
Joint Statement Post Dialogue
A joint statement issued by the two nations on Tuesday said that the 2+2 ministerial dialogue had reaffirmed that closer US-India cooperation will support shared interests in promoting security, prosperity in Indo-Pacific and beyond.
“The Ministers applauded exemplary cooperation between US and India in confronting COVID-19 challenges. They reiterated their resolve to strengthen cooperation in development of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, ventilators and essential equipment.”Joint statement released by India-US
Further, the statement said that the two nations had emphasised that the Code of Conduct in South China Sea shouldn't prejudice any nation's rights and interests as per international law, ANI reported.
Crucial BECA Deal Signed
The BECA agreement was signed during the ‘2+2’ ministerial-level talks between the two countries, underway at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Tuesday, 27 October. In the third edition of the bilateral talks, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met their counterparts US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Esper.
“We are happy that we’ve completed the BECA , which will open new avenues in the information sharing. We are eager to discuss further issues with US.”Rajnath Singh
This agreement will enable sharing of geospatial intelligence, information on maps and satellite images for defence purposes.
“Our economies have suffered losses. We're trying to revive industries and service sectors. Our partnership becomes more important in view of current challenges we're facing. We both believe in rule-based order and democracy,” defence minister added.
“At a time when it is particularly important to uphold a rules-based international order, ability of India and US to work closely in defence and foreign policy has a larger resonance. Together, we can make a real difference when it comes to regional and global challenges.”S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs
Strengthening India-US Ties
“Today’s discussions will add new vigour to India-US defence relations and mutual cooperation,” Rajnath Singh tweeted after meeting Defense Secretary Esper. The talks, Singh said, were “aimed at further deepening defence cooperation in a wide range of areas.”
The defence minister was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane, Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and other senior officials.
“Both the ministers discussed potential new areas of cooperation, both at service to service level and at the joint level. They called for the continuation of existing defence dialogue mechanisms during the pandemic, at all levels, particularly the Military Cooperation Group (MCG). They also discussed requirements of expanding deployment of liaison officers,” the statement from South Block said.
Esper and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in the national capital on Monday.