Driving strategic ally to new level; US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter inks a fresh 10-year defence framework agreement with India spurring joint development and manufacture of defence equipment and technology.
Carter began his tour with a trip to the strategically important Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam whose theatre of operation includes the critical South China Sea region and the Strait of Malacca.
He will hold wide-ranging talks with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday evening during which India-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) will be a major area of focus, defence sources said.
The US Defence Secretary will also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi besides meeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
“Carter’s trip to India is part of his focus on the US re-balance to Asia. Specifically, his trip to Visakhapatnam showcased his commitment to maritime security and the need for a regional security architecture that creates transparency and trust among regional partners,” a statement by the US Embassy said in New Delhi.
American navy plans to shift 60pc of its maritime assets to the Pacific by 2020.
The American statement said the “positive momentum” in bilateral ties is especially tangible as Carter will sign the 2015 US-India Defence Framework Agreement with Parrikar, which will help expand the defence relationship between the two countries.
The agreement, decided during the visit of US President Barack Obama to India in January, will focus on issues ranging from maritime security, aircraft carrier to jet engine technology cooperation and joint training.
Carter is accompanied by his wife Stephanie and a 13-member US delegation.
During the visit to Vishakapatnam, Carter interacted with Vice Admiral B K Verma, Chief of Staff, Eastern Naval Command and held discussions on issues of “common interest”, a Navy statement said.
The Secretary visited the indigenous stealth frigate, INS Sahyadri, prior to his departure to New Delhi.