By Rahul Bhonsle
External Affairs Minister of India Shri Salman Khurshid and Secretary of State John F Kerry co-chaired the fourth India-US Strategic Dialogue on June 24, 2013. One of the key elements in the Fourth Dialogue was the track on defence and security cooperation. In the joint media interaction by the Minister/Secretary it was remarked that they, “talked about defence co-development, co-manufacture, co-purchase”.
As per the Fact Sheet issued on International Security, defense relationship encompasses military-to-military dialogues, exercises, defense sales, professional military education exchanges, and practical cooperation. Special mention was made in the Joint Statement of regular military training exercises, like the Army series Yudh Abhyas, which took place in May 2013, and the naval series Malabar planned for later this year.
The Joint Statement indicated that both countries are committed to maritime security, unimpeded commerce and freedom of navigation, and the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes in accordance with international law. A particular reference possibly in the context of the ASEAN mechanisms to China’s aggressive behavior in the South China Sea and reluctance to evolve a common code of conduct for smooth passage of maritime trade. India and the US have consistently mentioned in the past that sea lines of communication are a part of the global commons and thus free for unhindered trade. Towards this end India also welcomed the entry of the United States to the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) as a Dialogue Partner in November 2012, and the United States welcomed India’s Observer status to the Arctic Council in May 2013.