New Delhi, May 14 (ANI): India and the United States today discussed various issues concerning the South Asian region like the rapid modernization of the Chinese armed forces, peace and stability in the region in wake of rise of the Taliban in Pakistanand Afghanistan.
Admiral Timothy J Keating, the US Pacific Command chief, who is on a daylong visit to India, today met Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon.
The head of the US Pacific Command is in India on the invitation of Admiral Mehta and will be soon handing over his command to his successor Admiral Robert Willard.
Admiral Keating said: ” Yes we discussed growth of Chinese armed forces and the fact that the PLA Navy is deployed in the Gulf of Aden conducting anti-piracy operations.”
He said that Chinese Navy is still not a Blue Water Navy, and added that deploying couple of ships for couple of months in Gulf of Aden does not qualify it for the same.
The top US general’s visit comes just after Indian, American and Japanese warships participated in the ‘Malabar’ war games off the coast of Japan from April 29 to May 3.
Rejecting Chinese views that such military groupings are the axis of democracy, Admiral Keating said that there is a possibility of China’s participation in the further edition of the Malabar exercise, and added that the PLA Navy should regularly take part in bilateral and multilateral exercises.
Replying to a question, Admiral Keating said he has made Indian authorities aware of US’ concern regarding three bilateral deals including Logistics Support Agreement, which would ensure free access to US warships and aircraft to India for refuelling and replenishment of supplies.
He further said that the United States shares long standing friendship in military field with India and New Delhi is a good friend and strong partner of Washington.
Commenting on May 1 incident in which two Chinese fishing boats closed in on and maneuvered dangerously close to the USNS Victorious in international waters in the Yellow Sea, Admiral Keating said that the recent harassment of US Navy ships by the PLA Navy is “troublesome.”
Earlier on March 8, five Chinese vessels surrounded and harassed the USNS Impeccable 80 nautical miles off Hainan Island.
“We view Chinese behaviour with concern and our State Department has issued demarche on several occasions. We want Chinese ships to operate in lawful manner,” the head of the US Pacific Command added.
Admiral Keating further said that piracy has been tremendously reduced in the Malacca Straight due to a joint effort between Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and the US.
“Some 40 percent of world trade, or 50,000 ships a year, pass through the straight dividing the Indian from the Pacific Oceans.
Three years ago, pirates launched 50 attacks a year, now down to five,” he said. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)