U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke on “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday highlighting that this year marks the 70th anniversary of relations between the two nations.
He spoke of the positive relationship between the nation's two leaders. “President Trump and Prime Minister Modi are committed, more than any other leaders before them, to building an ambitious partnership that benefits not only our two great democracies but other sovereign nations working toward greater peace and stability. Prime Minister Modi’s visit in June highlighted the many areas of cooperation that are already underway in this new area of our strategic relationship. Our defense ties are growing. We are coordinating our counter-terrorism efforts more than ever before. And earlier this month, a shipment of American crude oil arrived in India, a tangible illustration of our expanding energy cooperation.”
The Trump administration is determined to deepen its partnership with the world’s largest democracy, he said. “The driving force of our close relationship rests in the ties between our peoples, our citizens, business leaders and our scientists. Nearly 1.2 million American visitors traveled to India last year. More than 166,000 Indian studies are studying in the United States. And nearly four million Indian-Americans call the United States home, contributing to their communities as doctors, engineers and innovators, and proudly serving their country in uniform.”
Tillerson was critical of China: “The very international order that has benefited India’s rise, and that of many others, is increasingly under strain. China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international rules-based order, even as countries like India operate within a framework that protects other nation’s sovereignty. China’s provocative actions in the South China Sea directly challenge the international law and norms that the United States and India both stand for. The United States seeks constructive relations with China, but we will not shrink from China’s challenges to the rules-based order and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighboring countries and disadvantages the U.S. and our friends.”
In discussing military security, he said: “For prosperity to take hold in the Indo-Pacific, security and stability are required.... The fact that the Indian Navy was the first overseas user of the P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft, which it effectively fields with the U.S. Navy counterparts, speaks volumes of our shared maritime interests and our need to enhance interoperability.
“The proposals the United States has put forward, including for Guardian UAVs, aircraft carrier technologies, the future vertical lift program, and F-18 and F-16 fighter aircraft, are all potential gamechangers for our commercial and defense cooperation. The United States military’s record for speed, technology and transparency speaks for itself, as does our commitment to Indian sovereignty and security. Security issues that concern India are concerns of the United States. Secretary Mattis has said the world’s two greatest democracies should have the two greatest militaries. I couldn’t agree more.”
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.