After the Pentagon’s renaming of its Pacific Command as Indo-Pacific Command to signal India’s importance to the US military, PM Narendra Modi and the US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis had a meeting on Saturday. Concluding his three-nation tour, Modi held a closed-door meeting with Mattis during which discussions on security-related issues of mutual and global interests were made, as per the sources.
In the annual Shangri -La dialogue Keynote address made by Modi he had cautioned that an”Asia of rivalry” would hold the region back. He opined that an Asian cooperation was the inevitability of 21st century. Modi emphasized on good relations between India and China working together with trust and confidence at the same time remain sensitive towards each other’s interests.”We should all have equal access as a right under international law to the use of common spaces on the sea and in the air that would require freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law,” Modi said during the dialogue.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis also addressed the dialogue where he stressed for freedom for all and also “reaffirmation for rule-based order”.The Modi-Jim meeting is significant on the wake of Jim’s address in which he had emphasized on Indian-American cooperation and also the inclusion of other countries into this to ensure peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.”It is only appropriate that waterways remain open for all nations,” Jim Mattis reaffirmed.
The US Defence Secretary’s stress on Indian – American cooperation and the declaration that waterways should remain open for all are to be viewed on the light of Chinese expansion policies in the South China Sea.US, giving importance to India , had changed the name of its oldest and largest Pacific command to Indo-pacific Command amid the heightened tensions with China over the militarization of South China Sea.
China through its expansionist policies has always created problems regarding the maritime as well as land boundaries. China claims almost all part of the South China sea to which the counterclaims have been made by the countries Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. The US is also taking an antithetical stance to China’s expansionist policies.
Considering the Obama administration’s move which granted India ‘Major Defence Partner’ status and the current Trump administration’s renaming of US’s oldest military command, the importance that Pentagon gives to India under the current Modi regime is visible. It was under the Modi Government that India and the US signed a crucial logistics defense pact enabling their militaries to use each other’s assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, making joint operations more efficient.