US, India agree to strengthen maritime cooperation

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New Delhi, April 13: US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his Indian counterpart agreed Tuesday to strengthen their cooperation on maritime security, as concerns grow in Washington over Beijing’s growing military ambitions.

Carter is in New Delhi to bolster a strategic relationship Washington considers crucial in the face of what it sees as China’s rising assertiveness, particularly in the South China Sea.

“Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in the area of maritime security,” said a joint statement issued after Carter held talks with Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

The two sides “reaffirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, including in the South China Sea,” said the statement.

 

Carter also held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Tuesday as part of his three-day visit, aimed at shoring up security and defence ties with regional power India.

Modi, who enjoys close ties with US President Barack Obama, has in the past criticised what he called China’s “expansionist mindset”.

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