June 06, 2012
New Delhi, June 6
Worried over United States' new defence focus on Asia, New Delhi today told Washington to re-calibrate its strategy, as India fears that it could lead to increased militarisation of its neighbourhood.
The two sides also reached an understanding that will enable transfer of cutting edge defence technology to India. At a bilateral meeting, Defence Minister AK Antony today told his US counterpart, Secretary Defence Leon Panetta "to move at a pace (in implementing the new military strategy) which is comfortable to all countries concerned." India was concerned at the eastward swing of the US, officials said.
Under its new strategy, termed as 're-balancing', the US wants 60 per cent of its naval assets, including six sea-borne aircraft carriers, under its Pacific Area Command (PACOM). India is under the area of influence of the PACOM, the US perceives.
China has already termed the new US policy as "untimely."
Sources explained that India's worry is Bay of Bengal turning into a volatile zone. China already has a naval base in Hangyyi Myanmar, the US is seeking berthing right at Chittagong port in Bangladesh while India is based in good numbers at Port Blair (Andaman Nicobar Islands).
In the hour-long meeting, Panetta appreciated India's move to maintain ties with Pakistan while terming the Indo-Pak and US-Pak relations as 'complicated'. "India and the US will need to continue to engage Pakistan, overcoming our respective - and often deep - differences with Pakistan", Panetta said. Washington made it clear that it does not seek Indian troops in Afghanistan. However, it wants New Delhi to continue supporting the country through "trade investments, reconstruction and help for Afghan security forces" beyond the December 2014 deadline when international forces start withdrawing.
In a major policy shift, the US dropped its demand that India must sign two umbrella defence agreements. The Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and the Communications, Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), which had been the irritants, were not discussed today. Panetta made it clear "these are not issues anymore".
During the discussion, Antony wanted both countries to move beyond the buyer-seller transactions and focus on transfer of technologies and partnerships. Panetta assured the Indian side that the US will facilitate technology access and sharing.
Posted by Naxal Watch at 8:50 PM