India’s presence in Asia-Pacific region important: US

With New Delhi signing a historic defence logistics agreement with Washington, the US has described India’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region as “important” in the backdrop of China’s disputes in the South China Sea region.

“Discussing tensions in the Asia Pacific region is something that’s not uncommon when we’re meeting our Indian counterparts, and there’s certainly a lot there because India is — India does have a purpose and a presence in the Pacific that’s important,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in his daily press briefing here on Tuesday.

Kirby’s remarks followed the Second India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State John Kerry in New Delhi.

India and the US signed an agreement on sharing military logistics, in a major step forward in closer bilateral defence cooperation.

The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (Lemoa) was inked here by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar during his latest visit to the US, and his US counterpart Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.

The agreement, viewed as part of the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia strategy, was criticised by a leading Chinese state-run English daily, warning that New Delhi might irritate Beijing if it “joins the US alliance system”.

“If India hastily joins the US alliance system, it may irritate China, Pakistan or even Russia,” the Global Times said in an editorial.

“It may not make India feel safer, but will bring strategic troubles to itself and make itself a centre of geopolitical rivalries in Asia,” it added.

Asked about China’s reaction to the new US-India defence agreement, Kirby said that ties between Washington and New Delhi were not only good for the two countries but for the world as well.

“Broadly speaking, a deepening, stronger, more cooperative bilateral relationship with India is nothing that anybody should fear or worry about,” he said.

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