Washington: India has become a key player and an important partner in advancing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region and there was an "unprecedented" US-India cooperation to protect freedom of navigation for all nations, a top American diplomat has said.
"As a regional power that is committed to advancing the rules-based international order, India has become a key player and an important partner in advancing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal told a Washington audience.
"As such, our bilateral cooperation is increasingly taking on trilateral and multilateral aspects," Biswal said yesterday at the Centre for a New American Security, a US think-tank.
Biswal's remarks come just ahead of the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's to the US this week. Modi will lead the Indian delegation at the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Barack Obama on March 31 and April 1.
"The high-level engagements between our two countries since May of 2014 include six at the leader-level, including the Nuclear Security Summit this week, and we could well see more before the end of the administration," Biswal said.
The area of greatest potential, however, is in maritime security, especially as the US engage in an unprecedented cooperation with India, the region's largest maritime power.
Nearly 90 per cent of global trade relies on maritime shipping and the Indian Ocean is the super-highway for much of this commerce. From 1992 to 2012, the average ships in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea jumped by over 300 per cent. She said as the Asian economies continue to rise, so will the need for greater maritime security in Indo-Pacific region.
"We have seen in other maritime areas that tensions emerge when countries seek to advance competing territorial claims through unilateral actions. But the Bay of Bengal presents a more optimistic example, one where a dominant power worked with its neighbors to amicably resolve claims through international arbitration," Biswal said.