India, US Hold First Maritime Security Dialogue

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New Delhi: India and the US on Monday held their first Maritime Security Dialogue here which focused on boosting cooperation in the challenging sector with Washington rebalancing its military assets to Asia Pacific. Officials from both countries met at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan for the US-India Maritime Security Dialogue.

The Indian side was represented by Joint Secretary in charge of Planning and International Cooperation (PIC) in the Defence Ministry, Shambhu Kumaran and Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary, Americas (AMS) Munu Mahawar.

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Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs David Shear, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Manpreet Anand, and Vice Admiral Aucoin, Commander, US Seventh Fleet, were the officials from the American side. The discussion focused on strategic maritime security issues like Asia-Pacific maritime challenges, naval cooperation, and multilateral engagement.

US Ambassador to India Richard Verma participated and said, “the creation of this dialogue was agreed to during Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s recent visit to India and is a further sign of the growing relations between our two countries,” a statement by the American Embassy here said.

Even though US wants it, India has flatly refused to conduct joint naval patrols in areas including the South China Sea where Beijing has maritime and territorial disputes with several neighbours.

The US wants its regional allies to adopt a more united stance against China over the South China Sea, where tension has spiked since China’s construction of seven islands in the Spratly archipelago.

China claims almost the whole of the South China Sea, resulting in overlapping claims with several other Asian nations like Vietnam and the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. However, they accuse China of illegally reclaiming land in contested areas to create artificial islands with facilities that could potentially be for military use.

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