News 18 India, Feb. 21, 2019
Bengaluru: Top ranking US defence department officials Thursday said they were looking forward to working with India to deal with terrorism as it was a common threat to the interests of both the countries.
"Counter-terrorism, I wouldn't call it necessarily just a strategy, it is an opportunity for cooperation with India to build interoperability, to engage in defence cooperation," US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia (DASD) Joseph H Felter said.
He was responding to a query about counter-terrorism as a strategy in defence and security cooperation between the US and India, in the wake of the recent terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama.
"Terrorism is a common threat to the interests of both the nations and we look forward to working with India to address that," Felter told reports on the sidelines of Aero India show here.
US Defense Security Cooperation Agency Director Lieutenant General Charles Hooper said, "We look to work with our counterparts in the Indian defence ministry and the armed forces to help us to jointly address the challenges across the spectrum of our security environment."
"We feel that through our collaboration, through the strengthening of this relationship, we will better be able to both individually and working together to address these types of challenges," he said.
US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster had on Tuesday said the Pulwama incident in Jammu and Kashmir has bolstered his country's resolve to cooperate with India on counter-terrorism matters and work with it to get to the bottom of the terror attacks.
The officials also stressed on the need to further deepen the partnership and cooperation between both the countries, keeping in mind the current geo-political environment.
Hooper said many countries want to provide weapons to India, but the United States is interested in working with India to develop solutions.
India remains a key partner in the region, and "we are working hard to support the bilateral relationship," he said.
Terming the signing of Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) between India and the US recently a "major milestone" in this direction, he said, "It will enable both the countries to deepen compatibility through weapon systems that includes secured communications and other technologies."
Describing the relationship between the US and India as a "natural partnership" based on convergence of strategic interests and shared values, Felter said, the US seeks to be the "partner of choice" for India's defence.
"Our partnership in the region, particularly with India is central to promoting a safe, secured, prosperous, free and open Indo-Pacific, and it is the key aspect of our Indo-Pacific strategy," he added.