Saturday, March 25, 2023

Building alliances top priority: Hicks tells Ajit Doval

US Deputy Defence Secretary Dr Kathleen Hicks told National Security Advisor Ajit Doval that building alliances and partnerships are a “top priority” for her department, the Pentagon has said, amidst the Indo-Pacific region’s increasingly contested strategic environment and China’s aggressive behaviour.
Hicks said this during a meeting with Doval here and discussed priorities for the US-India bilateral defence partnership, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
It said the discussions also included strengthening policy and operational coordination in the Indo-Pacific region and increasing defence industrial cooperation between the two countries.
“They discussed a range of topics including US-India defence cooperation and regional security issues,” the Indian Embassy said in a tweet Tuesday.
“I met today with# India Nat’l Security Advisor #Ajit Doval to discuss priorities for the US-India defense partnership, thank India for leadership in the Indo-Pacific region & discuss ways to deepen defense industrial cooperation,” Hicks tweeted.
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon, in a read out of the meeting, said Hicks reiterated that building alliances and partnerships is a top priority for the department, and integral to the ongoing implementation of the US National Defence Strategy.
The US’ 2022 National Defence Strategy calls China a “growing multi-domain threat.”
The US has indicated solidarity with several Asian nations, several of whom have conflicts with an aggressive China which is flexing its muscles in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it.
Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea.
The South China Sea and the East China Sea are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources. They are also vital to global trade.
Although the US lays no claims to the disputed waters, it has challenged China’s growing territorial claims in the South China Sea by deploying warships and fighter jets to assert freedom of navigation and overflight patrols in the strategically vital region.
During the meeting, Hicks thanked Doval for India’s leadership in the region and discussed avenues to deepen coordination between the US and Indian militaries to address the “region’s increasingly contested strategic environment,” Pahon said.
The two sides also discussed opportunities to increase bilateral defence industrial cooperation through innovative joint endeavours between US and Indian firms that support India’s “unique operational requirements,” he said.


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