Pace of defence cooperation with India accelerating: US envoy Kenneth Juster

The pace of defence cooperation between the US and India is accelerating, US Ambassador Kenneth Juster said here on Wednesday.

Inaugurating the US pavilion at the Defexpo-2020, he said industry partners were playing a key role in the growth of Indo-US defence relationship. “I had the pleasure of travelling back to Washington DC last December to attend the second US-India 2+2 ministerial dialogue between Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Indian ministers Rajnath Singh and S Jaishankar,” he said.

“Two things from the ministerial dialogue stood out. First, the pace of defence cooperation between the US and India is accelerating. Second, our respective industry partners are playing a key role in the growth of our defence relationship,” Juster added.

“As the ambassador of the US to India, I have the opportunity to witness the efforts that are spurring the growth of this defence relationship. For example, last fall, I observed the first ever tri-services exercise. Such exercises demonstrate the importance that the US places on the Indo-Pacific region and value of our defence relationship with India,” he said.

He also added that both the sides were “increasingly working together” to meet common goals and serving common interest and that the US companies’ representatives at this pavilion, will undoubtedly play a role in working with India to achieve this goal. “As the bilateral defence relationship grows, our embassy is dedicated to continuing to work to facilitate cooperation among the government and industries,” he said.

When asked to comment on New Delhi’s concern over weapons supplied to Pakistan being used against India, as after the Balakot strike, Juster evaded a direct reply. “We are focussed here today on what we can do in partnership with India. And that partnership has continued to accelerate. That is the focus of attention and we regard India as a strategic partner in terms of our defence cooperation,” he said.

The five-day Defexpo was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.