Singapore: US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday underlined the important role of India and other partner countries for peace in the Indo-Pacific region, which he described as a “priority theatre” for Washington.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, he explained how the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific is at the heart of American national security strategies and the power of the partnerships that regional nations have built with the US forms the core for a peaceful world.
“We’re also weaving closer ties with other partners. And I’m especially thinking of India, the world’s largest democracy. We believe that its growing military capability and technological prowess can be a stabilizing force in the region,” Austin said.
American strategists no longer talk about the “US pivot to Asia,” said Austin, while adding that the Indo-Pacific is Washington’s “priority theatre” with more than 300,000 American service members in the region working with allies and partners to ensure the rules-based international order is maintained.
He has noted that US partnerships with Indo-Pacific nations have grown and matured. “We’ve moved together toward our shared vision for the region,” he said. “The journey that we’ve made together in the past year only underscores a basic truth: In today’s interwoven world, we’re stronger when we find ways to come together.”
The US Defence Secretary underlined how the United States works with treaty allies Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the Philippines. “America also works closely with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue group alongside India, Japan and Australia,” said Austin.
He said the US is doing exercises and training with its partners and allies for interoperability in the Indo-Pacific. “So we’ve stepped up the complexity, the jointness and the scale of our combined exercises with our allies and partners,” he said.
“Last spring, the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group rotated through the Indian Ocean and we conducted simultaneous joint operations with the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force has integrated air power and anti-submarine warfare,” he added.
Austin’s address comes a day after the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe to discuss US-China defence relations.
The two met on the fringes of the Shangri-La Dialogue.
The two discussed global and regional security issues and the bilateral defence relationship between the United States and China. They spent most of the meeting discussing Taiwan.
On the global and regional security issues, the two discussed North Korea and the challenges in Northeast Asia. They also discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Austin and Wei discussed the need for crisis communication between the two militaries. Austin urged the Chinese Army to proactively participate in crisis communications and crisis management mechanisms. “General Wei was responsive to that,” the official said.
Austin reiterated to Wei that there is no change in US policy toward Taiwan. He spelt out the US policy, “which is that we are [to] remain committed to our ‘One China’ policy as enumerated in the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances, the Three Joint Communiques,” the official said.
Austin also made it clear that the United States does not support any unilateral changes to the status quo, and the United States does not support Taiwan’s independence. (ANI)