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US to help India serve as a 'regional economic anchor'

April 11, 2013 12:24 IST

As the United States under the Barack Obama administration re-balances its defence posture in the Asia Pacific region, the Pentagon has told the Congress that it is investing in a "long-term" strategic partnership with India.

"The United States is investing in a long-term strategic partnership with India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region," the US department of defence informed the Congress on Wednesday in its annual budgetary proposals of $526.6 billion for the fiscal year 2014, beginning October 1, 2013.

Noting that building partnership capacity elsewhere in the world remains important for sharing costs and responsibilities of global leadership, the Pentagon said it will have a global presence, which emphasizes the Asia-Pacific and Middle East, while still ensuring its ability to maintain defence commitments to Europe and strengthening alliance and partnerships across all regions.

The country will remain committed to Israel's security and a comprehensive Middle East peace, the department of finance said.

"We will maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula by effectively working with allies and other regional states to deter and defend against provocation form North Korea which is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons programme," it said.

Observing that its commitment to the Asia-Pacific region is part of a broader US government focus, the Pentagon said key enhancements or protected investments in fiscal 2014 include continuing high-level, frequent visits by senior separtment leaders to the region.

Focus will also be on revitalising defence partnerships with Japan, Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia, it said.

"In the Asia Pacific, funds are included for hardening of airfields, protection of critical strike capabilities such as bombers and F-22 squadrons, and developing Guam as a strategic hub. Funding is also requested to support strengthening and deepening partnerships in the Asia-Pacific," the Pentagon said.

The maintenance of peace, stability, the free flow of commerce, and of US influence in the region will depend on an underlying balance of military capability and presence, it said.

The United States and China have a strong stake in peace and stability in East Asia and an interest in building a cooperative bilateral relationship, it said.

"However, China's rapidly growing economic and political influence has been accompanied by a comprehensive military modernisation program that emphasises counter-intervention capabilities and poses a significant challenge to America's position as the security partner of choice in the Asia-Pacific region," said the budgetary proposals running into 180 pages.

"We will continue to seek expanded US-China military-to-military ties (in bilateral and multilateral venues), advocate for increased transparency in China's military development, and, where feasible, seek China's cooperation on regional and global security challenges," it said.

The defence budget dedicates United States $ 4.6 billion in support of re-balancing toward the Asia-Pacific, which is an US$ 843 million increase over the previous year.

Lalit K Jha
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