WION New Delhi, Delhi, India
Dec 08, 2018, 02.35 PM
In a first, India's defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited US Indo Pacific command in Hawaii. The visit comes months after the US changed the name of Pacific command, its largest command in the world, to Indo Pacific command. She was hosted by Commander of US Indo-Pacific Command Adm. Phil Davidson who said, “Our two democratic nations are committed to upholding a rules-based international order, which has brought decades of peace, stability, and prosperity. We are global partners on defense and security and this exemplifies our mutual cooperation to assure a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
India's defence minister also visited the historic Pearl Harbour and boarded US Guided Missile Destroyer USS Michael Murphy. The visit coincided with the 77th anniversary of the 1941 attack on pearl harbour by Japanese forces, the attack which is considered a turning point in world war 2 and eventually led to the defeat of Japanese forces in the region. Nirmala Sitharaman is on an official visit to the US from December 2-7, at the invitation of US Secretary of Defence James N. Mattis.
The visit by Defence minister comes at a time when India and US have been engaging to expand the Indo Pacific concept. At the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore, PM Modi said that Indo Pacific is inclusive and "India's vision for the Indo-Pacific Region is a positive one" with "ASEAN centrality and unity".
The United States and India have been major defense partners since 2016. During the recently concluded inaugural US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi in September, New Delhi and Washington signed COMCASA or Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement. Air forces of India and the US are currently conducting a 12-day military exercise in Kalaikunda and Panagarh air bases in West Bengal, with an aim to enhance operational coordination, according to India Air Forces officials. The 'Ex Cope India-18' will be the fourth edition in the series of bilateral drills between the Indian Air Force and the US Air Force.
The visit comes months after the US changed the name of Pacific command, its largest command in the world, to Indo Pacific command.