India very influential, powerful force in Asia Pacific: Ashton Carter – Economic Times

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NEW YORK: India is a “very influential and powerful player” in the Asia Pacific and is going to play an ever increasingly role in the region, US Defence SecretaryAshton Carter has said on the eve of his visit to India during which “exciting new projects” will be discussed to boost Indo-US strategic ties.

“India is already a very influential and powerful force in the whole Indo Asia Pacific region, starting with the Indian Ocean,” Carter told PTI.

He said that his three-day trip to India, beginning tomorrow, would be an important step in the implementation of some of the key decisions being taken by US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last two years.

However, Carter remained tight-lipped on the decisions to be taken during his India trip that would take him to Goa and New Delhi.

“We will talk about exciting new projects, the details of which I cannot got into this afternoon,” the Defence Secretary told a New York audience before the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) yesterday for which he specially flew to the Big Apple to give a key policy speech on Asia Pacific.

Obama Administration’s “Asia Pacific rebalance” and Modi Government’s “Act East Asia” is what Carter described to the New York audience as “strategic handshake”, between the two largest democracies of the world.

“Obviously it (India) is going to play an ever-increasing role, a very positive role because of the values it stands (for).., championing of a co-operative approach to security,” Carter said in response to a question.

The Defence Secretary acknowledged that India’s “influence stems all the way around, South East Asia and into East Asia”, and also referred to the close relationship it now has with Japan in the Asia Pacific region.

Carter, who has played a key role in this new phase of India-US defence relationship – which started in his previous capacities at the Pentagon – believes that India-US relationship is destined to be one of the most significant partnerships of the 21st century.

And his second visit to India, in less than a year, is aimed to realise that, he said.

“It’s (India trip) to take some very important new steps and to implement what the President and the Prime Minister agreed last year and the (defence) framework (agreement) that I signed with Minister Parrikar last year,” Carter said.

Carter said the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI),which was started in 2012 in his previous stint at the Pentagon, “grasps hands” with Modi’s “Make in India” campaign to expand the nation’s industrial and defence base.

“In the area of the DTTI, in the area of joint military exercises and activities, we would have the opportunity in a very tangible and significant way to signify our co-operation,” he said.

India very influential, powerful force in Asia Pacific: Ashton Carter – Economic Times}