Washington: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has been given a rare insight into USS Dwight D Eisenhower, one of America’s top nuclear powered aircraft carriers, signalling the emerging close Indo-US defense ties.
The tour of the sophisticated aircraft carrier, rare for a foreign leader, was given by US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter himself.
The two leaders, accompanied by senior defense officials and diplomats from both sides, spent nearly four hours on the ship itself, wherein Parrikar was given a detailed first-hand experience of the top aircraft carrier which in recent years has played a key role in support of American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Parrikar described the experience as “fantastic”. “We could experience the technology and the speed at which things can be done,” said Parrikar after spending time with Carter on the deck watching the takeoff and landing of fighter jets.
He also visited the other parts of the USS Eisenhower, including the control room on the top floor and hanger at the bottom of the ship.
When Parrikar arrived at the Andrews Air Force base aboard Defence One, the personal plane of the Defence Secretary, on Thursday, Carter gave a big hug to his guest. Before seeing him off, the two leaders had spent nearly nine hours together.
At a time, when Pentagon is experiencing hectic activities in view of the crisis in the Middle East, a senior defense official described Carter spending so much time with Parrikar as “very significant” and reflective of how much importance US attaches to its defense relationship with India.
In an interaction with a group of Indian media later, Parrikar refrained from giving an insight into what the two leaders talked throughout the day.
“I will put it in one line, when you get well, you do not remember what you discussed,” the Minister said as he dismissed the question.
“The most important is trust building, which I think is happening for the first time after Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi had good discussions with the (US) President (Barack Obama),” he said.
However, India has ruled out any enhancement of its role in the Middle East in view of the emergence of deadly ISIS in Syria and Libya.
Parrikar said there has been no change in India’s policy on participating only in UN approved peacekeeping missions. But India is and has been sharing intelligence with the US on issues related to terrorism, he said.