June 17, 2012

India worried over US security plans for Asia

Frankfurt, June 16, 2012, DHNS:

With China flexing muscles and the US all set to bolster its presence in the Asia-Pacific, India now looks for a "common but flexible" Asian security architecture to determine the rule of games in strategically important Indian Ocean, through which bulk of the world's oil and cargo moves.

Days after the US announced its plans to add one more carrier battle group in the Asia-Pacific, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is apprehensive that it could lead to a steady increase in militarisation of the region, to which Asian powers will react.

In the changed security dynamics, India needed common but flexible security framework which will allow day-to-day level functioning without any conflict, top government sources said. A beginning was made at last year's East Asian security summit where for the first time regional security issues were discussed.

"Our interest is in freedom of our navigation, which should not lead to any conflict of interests in the Asia-Pacific," sources said, clearly hinting at the two instances where China objected to Indian presence in South China Sea. Beijing's sovereignty claim on a part of Indian Ocean ruffled feathers not only in India but in other South and East Asian countries too. As a consequence, the Navy intensified its maritime diplomacy to leave its footprint all over Indian Ocean. 

A four-ship fleet from Vishakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command travelled up to Japan making port calls in India's south Asian neighbours. The fleet reached Sanghai earlier this week for a six-day stay. Another four-ship fleet from Mumbai-based Western Naval Command is all set to undertake a voyage up to the coast of Africa and Europe furthering the Navy's blue water ambition.

Two more warships are on duty at piracy infested Gulf of Aden and monitoring the exclusive economic zone of Seychelles on the request of the island nation, signalling a pan-Indian Ocean deployment of Indian Navy. A boost will come with the induction of Russian origin aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya on December 4. Onboard air trial of Mig-29K will begin in the White Sea in a month's time.

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