Now US chants Modi’s East Policy mantra

Singapore: Well, well, well, look who wants to take a leaf out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s book!

Ahead of his India visit next week, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on Saturday said America is looking for new ways to complement India’s ‘Act East’ policy and find meaningful areas of cooperation in the Asia Pacific.

“The United States is looking for new ways to complement India’s Act East policy and find meaningful areas of cooperation in the Asia Pacific,” he said.

“The 2015 US-India Defense Framework I will sign next week will open up this relationship on everything from maritime security to aircraft carrier and jet engine technology cooperation,” he told delegates at the Shangri-La Dialogue plenary session in Singapore.

During his visit next week, Carter said he will tour the Eastern Naval Command at Vizag and meet with with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi to sign the new US-India Defense Framework that will guide military cooperation for the next decade.

“We’re leveraging America’s alliances and partnerships to pursue new forms of cooperation and that is why America’s trilateral networks are blossoming,” Carter said.

He pointed out that with Japan and Australia, the US is strengthening maritime security in Southeast Asia, expanding trilateral exercises and exploring defence technology cooperation.

With Japan and Korea, the United States is building on a first-of-its kind information-sharing arrangement that will help collectively deter and respond to crises, he said.

“And with Japan and India, the United States is sharing lessons learned on disaster responses and building greater maritime security cooperation,” said Carter.

Prior to India, Carter will leave for Vietnam after his Singapore visit to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue. The exact dates of his travel were not given.

He will be visiting Haiphong and then Hanoi, where he and Vietnamese Defense Minister General Thanh will sign a Joint Vision Statement that for the first time commits both the United States and Vietnam to greater operational cooperation.

“Each of these stops, just like my visits to Japan and the Republic of Korea last month, is a reminder of the regional demand for persistent American engagement and the importance of the regional security architecture that has helped so many Asia-Pacific nations rise and prosper,” he said.

Referring to issues related to the South China Sea, Carter said the United States wants a shared regional architecture that is strong enough, capable enough, and connected enough to ensure that all Asia-Pacific people and nations have the opportunity to rise and continue to rise in the future.

“The United States wants a future in which an Indonesian fisherman, an energy executive from Malaysia, an entrepreneur from Singapore, a small business owner in California, and a Chinese businesswoman – just to name a few – have the security and opportunity to rise and prosper. And the United States wants to protect the rights of all countries, whether large or small, to win…To rise, prosper and determine their own destiny,” he said.

America’s alliances and partnerships have been the bedrock of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific for decades, he pointed out.

And the United States is working with allies like Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines to be sure they continue to serve that function, the US Defence Secretary said.

“Modernisation means changing these alliances to address the evolving threat of environment as the United States has done with South Korea and growing these alliances into platforms for regional and global cooperation, as we’ve done with Australia and Japan,” Carter said.

He said the United States and China have agreed to two historic confidence-building agreements this past fall, and Washington hopes to do more.

“We’re working to complete another measure this year that aims to prevent dangerous air-to-air encounters. Building better habits of US-China military-to-military cooperation not only benefits both countries but the whole region as well.

“Beyond exercises and military-to-military cooperation, we also build habits of cooperation when we work together to confront real world challenges, such as responding to natural disasters and other humanitarian crises. These efforts are critically important in a disaster-prone region,” Carter said.

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