US looking to complement India’s ‘Act East’ policy: Defence Secretary Ashton Carter

New Delhi(PTI): Ahead of his India visit next week, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on Saturday said America is looking for new ways to complement India’s ‘Act East’ policy and find meaningful areas of cooperation in the Asia Pacific.

“The 2015 US-India Defence Framework I will sign next week will open up this relationship on everything from maritime security to aircraft carrier and jet engine technology cooperation,” he told delegates at the Shangri-La Dialogue plenary session here.

During his visit next week, Carter said he will tour the Eastern Naval Command at Vizag and meet with with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi to sign the new US-India Defense Framework that will guide military cooperation for the next decade.

“The United States is looking for new ways to complement India’s Act East policy and find meaningful areas of cooperation in the Asia Pacific,” he said.

“We’re leveraging America’s alliances and partnerships to pursue new forms of cooperation and that is why America’s trilateral networks are blossoming,” Carter said.

He pointed out that with Japan and Australia, the US is strengthening maritime security in Southeast Asia, expanding trilateral exercises and exploring defence technology cooperation.

With Japan and Korea, the United States is building on a first-of-its kind information-sharing arrangement that will help collectively deter and respond to crises, he said.

“And with Japan and India, the United States is sharing lessons learned on disaster responses and building greater maritime security cooperation,” said Carter.

Prior to India, Carter will leave for Vietnam after his Singapore visit to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue. The exact dates of his travel were not given.

He will be visiting Haiphong and then Hanoi, where he and Vietnamese Defense Minister General Thanh will sign a Joint Vision Statement that for the first time commits both the United States and Vietnam to greater operational cooperation.

“Each of these stops, just like my visits to Japan and the Republic of Korea last month, is a reminder of the regional demand for persistent American engagement and the importance of the regional security architecture that has helped so many Asia-Pacific nations rise and prosper,” he said.

Referring to issues related to the South China Sea, Carter said the United States wants a shared regional architecture that is strong enough, capable enough, and connected enough to ensure that all Asia-Pacific people and nations have the opportunity to rise and continue to rise in the future.