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US lawmakers push for building strong defence ties with India

Thursday, May 26, 2016,13:58 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Washington | Apprehensive about the Chinese aggressive military buildup, the top US lawmakers cutting across party lines are pushing for building a strong defence relationship with India.

The Senators during a Congressional hearing endorsed a move by the Obama Administration to help modernise Indian military including the ambitious defence technology and trade initiative.

As the world’s two largest democracies, it is essentially that Washington and Delhi stand together to uphold democratic values, principles and norms in the Indo-Pacific, particularly as China seeks to gain greater influence in the region, Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during the hearing.

The nature and scope of the US-India relationship has changed significantly over the past couple of decades, and the political, economic and strategic cooperation between the United States and India is at an all-time high, he said. There is considerable potential to further strengthen many aspects of our relationship. For example, I’m encouraged by efforts to expand US-India defence and security co- operations specifically in the maritime sphere, Corker said.

India and the US has a lot in common, asserted Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The South China Sea and China’s activities on maritime security dictate that the United States and India work at closer defence cooperative arrangement to make sure that we maintain the commerce of the seas and the openness of the shipping lanes, said Cardin. We also need to deal with counter-terrorism.

We still recall the tragic terrorist episode in Mumbai in 2008. Three of my constituents from Maryland were killed during that attack, and that’s still fresh in the minds of the people of India, he said. So I think strengthening our ties on counter-terrorism, working towards a further cooperation from South Asia, is an important part of the growing relationship between our two countries, said Cardin who during the hearing was quite vocal on expressing concern over human rights situation in India.

Former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said he oftentimes hear that the role of India’s future discussed as a sort of counterbalance to China. I think it should be much more than that. Obviously there’s an element of that, but I think India in and of itself is a nation with incredible potential, and there’s incredible potential in our bilateral relationship, he said.

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