US must invest in natural strategic partner India :Randall Schriver

The US must continue to invest in its “natural strategic partner” India, nominee for assistant secretary of defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver said today, noting that the security ties between the two nations was at “its strongest point in history”.

Addressing the US lawmakers during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Schriver said the overall relationship between the two nations had strengthened significantly during the last decade.

“I am encouraged by our increasing level of defence collaboration with India,” he said.

“I think we must continue to invest in our natural strategic partner, India,” Schriver said.

Schriver said the US-India security relationship was at “its strongest point in history” and it was reflected by the designation of India as a “Major Defence Partner” by the US in 2016.

“The designation of India as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ in 2016 reflects the progress we are making to build a long-term and broad-based strategic partnership, and if confirmed, I will look to build on this progress,” he said in a written response to a set of questions during the hearing.

Schriver said it is particularly important that the two expand their co-operation on regional and global security issues, including supporting the US’ South Asia strategy and contributing in Afghanistan; expand defence trade under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative; and advance the interoperability of the two militaries to enable strong cooperation.

“I understand that we have made significant progress during the past decade to expand our defence trade and reduce obstacles in our respective bureaucracies to enable closer cooperation, including Foreign Military Sales,” Scriver said.

“Given the importance of defence trade in establishing a strong partnership, if confirmed, I am committed to looking at what more the Department of Defence can do to strengthen this component of our relationship,” he said.

John C Rood, nominee for Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, said the US-India relationship has strengthened significantly, particularly with regard to security and defence issues.

“I am encouraged by the growing collaboration and the increasing level of technology and trade initiatives and, if confirmed, will look for opportunities to advance the US-India security relationship,” he said.

Continued steps to facilitate defence trade and cooperation between the US and Indian industry is an important element of bolstering the overall defence relationship between the two countries, Rood said.

“I believe it is important for senior officials in the US Defence Department to maintain regular high-level exchanges with their counterparts in India’s Ministry of Defence and continue efforts to facilitate closer defence cooperation,” he added.