New Delhi: India and the United States have a growing convergence of strategic interests, and both sides desire a durable and rules-based international order that protects all nations’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
The recent India-US “2+2” discussion and productive chat between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden, according to Singh, has laid the groundwork for a more ambitious and strategic engagement between the two countries.
He said both India and the US share a vision of a free, open, inclusive, and rules-based Indo-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region in a presentation to the American Chamber of Commerce in India.
“We have a growing convergence of strategic interests as both countries seek a resilient, rules-based international order that safeguards sovereignty and territorial integrity, upholds democratic values and promotes peace and prosperity for all,” he said.
The defence minister also called the India-US commercial partnership “one of the defining business ties of the twenty-first century,” noting that bilateral commerce has increased in the recent year, topping USD 113 billion (one billion =10,000 lakhs) in products.
“In the context of this increasing trade, the India-US Trade Policy Forum discussions to expand bilateral trade, remove market access barriers, and improve ease of business become increasingly important,” he said.
Singh said the “defence pillar” of the US-India relationship is strong and growing. “It is built on foundational bilateral agreements, military to military engagements, cooperation in the enhancement of defence capabilities and now a new emphasis on co-development and co-production,” he said.
“Of late, some of the US companies have expanded their local presence in partnership with Indian companies, producing in India, for India and for the world.However, we believe this is just a beginning,” Singh said. The India-US ‘2+2’ dialogue had taken place in Washington on April 11. Defence Minister Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held the dialogue with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony J Blinken.
Prime Minister Modi and President Biden conducted a virtual encounter the day before the discussion, during which the Ukraine issue was extensively discussed. “As we move forward to strengthen our relationship, I would like to emphasise the need to move from a buyer-seller relationship to one of partner nations and business partners,” Singh said.
“I think, India and the United States are uniquely poised to leverage each other’s strengths for a win-win model in the coming years,” he said.