India and the US have unveiled a vision for deeper military cooperation, saying two of the world’s great democracies should have the “world’s greatest militaries”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also pitched a vision of the two countries working together in Asia and the rest of the world during talks with President Donald Trump on the margins of the Asean Summit in the Philippines on Monday.
The two leaders also discussed their shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, a day after officials from India, Australia, Japan and the US held talks to formalise a quadrilateral alliance.
A statement from the White House said, “They (Modi and Trump) pledged to enhance their cooperation as Major Defense Partners, resolving that two of the world’s great democracies should also have the world’s greatest militaries.”
The leaders also discussed the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership, the statement said.
In brief remarks in Hindi before his formal talks with Trump, Modi said India-US relations were very rapidly becoming “deeper and very comprehensive”.
“You must also feel that India-US relations, while rising above the interests of India and the US, we can work together for the future of Asia and (see) what we can do for mankind…There are many issues on which we are working together,” Modi said.
“I would like to assure you that whatever expectations the world has of India, and whatever expectation the US has, India has made all-out efforts to fulfil those expectations and it will continue to do so,” he added.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar described the 45-minute meeting, the third between Modi and Trump, as a “cordial, constructive and very comfortable” conversation on bilateral, regional and global issues.
Modi’s remarks reflected the growing convergence on strategic issues between the two sides at a time when the Quad, which is being seen a counter-balance to China, has increased efforts aimed at keeping the Indo-Pacific region free, open and inclusive.
China responded to these efforts on Monday by saying such cooperation should not be “directed at a third party”.
Trump expressed appreciation for Indian purchase of oil from the US surpassing 10 million barrels in recent months, and said stronger energy cooperation will be a geopolitical and economic game changer for both countries.
The first consignment of American crude oil reached India in October and Indian petroleum companies plan to purchase crude worth $2 billion from the US in the next year.
Modi said he looked forward to hosting the US delegation at the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which will be co-hosted by the two countries. The US delegation will be led by Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who is his senior advisor.
Foreign secretary Jaishankar also said Modi and Trump made “a broad review of the strategic landscape in Asia”. Asked whether the formation of the quadrilateral was discussed, he had said there was a passing mention of it.
The two leaders mainly focused on economic issues, including trade and investment, expanding economic ties and improving market access for each other.
A fair amount of time was also devoted to Afghanistan, and Modi briefed Trump on the recent supply of wheat by India to the war-torn country via the Iranian port of Chabahar. They also discussed defence cooperation, the situation in the Middle East, counter-terrorism, nuclear proliferation and the Korean crisis, he said.